is the rent we pay for the space we occupy"
Current activities: I turn activities I enjoy, and my expertise, into volunteer work. I've been a musician and music teacher, so we organize ukulele and guitar groups for people who want to learn those instruments and enjoy their new passions. For two Christmases, I performed Christmas music at Women's shelters with a collection of other musicians. I perform with my jazz combo and other groups for charities and retirement homes. We've built and run three different weekly community music groups over the past decade: Sunday afternoon vintage jazz, Tuesday evening sing along, and Wednesday evening "all instruments play along".
Because we enjoy traveling, we host young travelers from Europe, S. America and Asia who stay here while they visit Canada. We coach those with working holiday visas through the process of landing a job in Toronto: we help them to write résumés and interview for jobs, and find their way around the city.
While they stay with us, I teach them to grow organic food in my vegetable garden, and they get to eat whatever they help us to grow. We share some of the vegetables we've grown with a local food bank, so gardening also becomes volunteer work; and Deborah volunteers every Monday at the same food bank, sorting and distributing food to clients.
In July we participate, through our yacht club, in giving sailboat rides to intellectually disabled adults, and to Big Brothers and Big Sisters and their "littles".
Activities in previous years:
During January and February of 2014, we spent seven weeks teaching free conversational English in Nha Trang, Vietnam, to an eager and fun group of young adults and teenagers. After we returned to Canada we continued to coach Vietnamese students by email and through collaborative google docs, helping them to write their essays and résumés in English, proofing and offering corrective suggestions and helping them to prepare for IELTS exams.
We worked at a remote Andean village school in Ecuador for five weeks in Jan/Feb 2013.
We did inspections and wrote reports on Alma Foundation projects in Peru in Feb/March 2013. We continued to assist with their accounting after we returned home to Toronto.
We led a team of Liaison Officers for Tall Ships that visited Toronto Harbour for a week in June of 2013, as we had also done previously in 2010. Our designated ship this time was the Peacemaker.
We spent one full week on a Habitat for Humanity project, building a townhouse complex in Scarborough.
I compiled newsletters for the Angolan Memorial Scholarship Fund, then served as treasurer for a number of years. I chaired the investment committee for a decade; now the investment committee has disbanded and I do the entire task myself. When we retired, Deb and I designated our retirement gifts from our colleagues to be in the form of donations split between that charity and the Racecourse School in Kitwe, Zambia. Colleagues donated a handsome sum.
Through 2012 I drove cancer patients to treatment one full day per week for the Canadian Cancer Society; and because I'm O rh negative, I've been a regular blood donor.
That fall Deborah interviewed applicants to be recipients of an annual Christmas hamper program (food, toiletries, clothing, bedding, toys for children, etc).
I've built websites, published newsletters and organized recreational leagues for my tennis and sailing clubs. I created the spring and fall newsletters for Highland Yacht Club for number of years.
In younger years I managed a summer youth hostel for young travellers, and volunteered at a summer children's camp for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
I played piano, and my bands and choirs presented free concerts at nursing homes and school fundraisers. I played trumpet in an 18 piece swing band and in a 7 piece jazz standards combo which performed in retirement homes and nursing homes. Deb and I also performed there as a sing along duo with ukulele and keys. I performed at school fundraisers.
Deborah fostered litters of kittens from the Toronto Humane Society for several years.