Two years ago I was invited to attend a gala. A fancy word that inspires thoughts of an incredible affair, filled with food, drink and dancing; usually with a fundraising cause at the core.
This was no exception, with the hosts turning out a night of fun and entertainment. It was also no exception that this too, was a fundraiser for a charitable group.
I was unfamiliar with this particular charity's event though, and knew little of its cause. Later that evening I learned it was World Accord's inaugural event in Oakville, initiated by a Mississauga couple that had been long-time supporters and volunteers.
Chad and Shannon Daily are a typical couple. Chad an entrepreneur, and Shannon a teacher, living and raising their children in Mississauga. Having supported World Accord for several years, they decided they wanted to create a fundraiser close to home, and hosted the first Black & White Gala in support of World Accord in Oakville.
Operated by a staff of three from an office in Waterloo, Ontario, World Accord is a not-for-profit registered charity that works toward greater equality and social justice, by striving to improve people's access to basic needs such as food, water, shelter, healthcare and education.
They work with partners in developing areas, mostly in Latin America and Asia. For more than 30 years they have been active in successful international projects, all funded by donations and the assistance of volunteers.
The group works on a philosophy of empowering people at the local level, so rather than simply sending money, or sending people to work in the field, they create solutions based on partnership.
In Haiti they work with the Foundation for International Development Assistance (FIDA), a group working to create cooperative and agricultural resources in the country for more than 17 years. Through FIDA, World Accord supports training for farmers and loans to help them expand or establish their crop. To help feed the mind, they offer literacy skills to stimulate the long-term viability of the cooperative.
In Honduras they work with Rural Reconstruction Program (PRR) to assist farming families with training and access to seeds, and offer basic literacy, finance and project management training. PRR supports basic education for all, offering subsidies and scholarships to children. With the help of its Canadian volunteers they also work to build schools and educational centres in under-served rural areas.
These are but a few exampes of the partners World Accord has cultivated worldwide. They have found success by partnering with established local groups like these, who already work effectively at the grass roots level. The organization says they, “carefully select and screen our partners using a rigorous process of due diligence to ensure the integrity and expertise that our accomplished partners bring to all of our project and program endeavors.”
The largest fundraising event each year is the annual Fastathon. Executive Director David Barth jokes, “This is our biggest fundraiser, because we don't have to feed anyone!”
Each year people of all ages gather for the annual World Accord Fastathon, a weekend that features activities, guest speakers, education on global issues and a grand prize draw for an expedition to visit a project in Latin America or Asia.
“The fast is from 11 p.m. on Friday until 11 a.m. on Sunday. It's Saturday that is the toughest, but we have a great turnout every year,” Barth adds.
Fastathon 2014 is May 23 to 25, visit the World Accord website for more details.
The Black & White Gala, now in its third year will again be hosted in Oakville on March 29. More than a fundraiser, the gala also showcases how donations are utilized, and illustrates the “dirty hands” philosophy the group is built on. Staff and volunteers will share stories of recent visits to projects World Accord supports.
For more information or to purchase tickets to the Black & White Gala visit: worldaccord.org