Celebrating The Volunteer Spirit: Part 1



To celebrate GivingTuesday we want to celebrate our volunteers. What better way to kick it off then with some words about our founder, Norm Clements. Here’s an excerpt from a beautiful letter written by his niece.

“Growing up in a family full of missionaries, our Founder, Norm Clements, inherited his desire to help others. Norm’s soft heart for others, especially the underdog, took root during his childhood – and has never faded.  A common sight in his home has always been extra plates at the table or someone sleeping on the couch… Norman was always willing to give a dropout a job, a recovering alcoholic a helping hand and a needy single mom help with her rent.  He’d buy a van full of fresh vegetables to encourage someone at the flea market… and think nothing of the three hour round trip to deliver it to a drop-in centre for homeless youth in downtown Toronto.  He wouldn’t just drop off fresh pastries or fruit at some lonely seniors’ homes – he’d take the time to drink a cup of tea, try one of their cabbage rolls or listen to some memory they wanted to share…  …and this is someone always busy in some business project – yet never too busy for someone in need.

When his baby granddaughter, born on his birthday, died from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, it spurred Norm on to start the “Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity”.  Since 1990 they have helped thousands of families who needed a hand through tough times dealing with seriously ill children with simple necessities (yet often overlooked) like  providing transportation to a medical appointment, a few hours of respite care or money to buy fresh fruits or vegetables to assist in a healthy diet for a child who has undergone chemotherapy.   This charity is a reflection of Norm’s heart… it’s not about big flashy donations – it’s all about lightening a burden, being a safety net and helping someone keep going even when times are tough.  It’s not just helping “families of seriously ill children” – for Norm – those families have names, faces, stories and dreams…

To be a philanthropist is noble, worthy of praise.  To take a minute, get out a cheque book and make generous donations can make monumental changes in the world.  …but Norman goes so much farther than that.  One, he isn’t motivated by any personal agenda… his generosity overflows from inside.  Giving and helping are not something he does, they are who he is.

Norman also actually gets involved – not because people might be watching – but because he enjoys it… He cooks for others, grills the hamburgers for an event or grabs a garbage bag to clean up afterwards.    And all the while, he is laughing, joking and making the atmosphere more fun for everyone.  He shares much more than his pocketbook – he shares his life and heart.”