Adam Gant | Philanthropy

Adam Gant is a committed philanthropist

Creating Communities with the Greater Victoria Housing Society

A young, single mother. A man who lost the use of his legs. A recovering drug addict. An old woman living on a fixed income. It may seem like these stories couldn’t be more different, but they actually all share a common thread: The characters are all real people from Victoria who faced serious challenges finding decent, affordable housing in the area. Fortunately, all of the stories also share a happy ending because each of the individuals were able to find a home thanks to the Greater Victoria Housing Society.

Founded in 1956, the Greater Victoria Housing Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the needy among us find high quality, safe, and affordable housing. Today, the society provides housing for over 1,000 people across the Victoria region in more than 700 units in 15 buildings. The Greater Victoria Housing Society offers two types of housing options: subsidized, which requires that applicants be on-file with the British Columbia Housing Registry, as well as non-subsidized housing. The organization also strives for best practices in energy efficiency and takes steps to ensure that their actions have the least possible negative effect on the environment.

Originally, in the 1950s, a group of concerned citizens saw a need for greater housing for the area’s seniors. They decided to address this problem by buying a house, and so, the Greater Victoria Housing Society was born. The society has evolved over the years to focus on more than just seniors and now provides housing services for low- to moderate-income families, the disabled, single parents, students, and others in need of a place to stay.

The Greater Victoria Housing Society does incredible work trying to provide housing for some of the neediest among us, and I’m proud to support the organization. I’ve made contributions to the society in the past, and in 2010, I also helped to facilitate the acquisition of a building for it–a 19-unit apartment building in Victoria on Quadra St.–that became the Greater Victoria Housing Society’s first “market to affordable” building, thus allowing the organization to expand its rental options.

For more information about the Greater Victoria Housing Society, visit its website!

Serving Hope with the Our Place Society

Winter is well on its way, and soon, everyone will spend their days inside with thermostats and fireplaces to keep them warm even when the snow starts falling. Anyone brave enough to stay outside will be clad in suits of armor consisting of scarves, hats, mittens, heavy coats, and layer after layer of clothes. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a safe place to go at night or good clothes to keep them warm in the dead of winter. Where do people who find themselves in this situation go during the cold winter months–or any other time of year, for that matter?

If they’re in Victoria, then they can go to Our Place. The Our Place Society is an inner-city community center that aims to provide relief and care for the working poor, impoverished, elderly, mentally and physically challenged, homeless, and anyone struggling with addiction. It was created in 2005 as the result of an alliance between two existing community organizations, the Upper Room Society and the Open Door, and construction on the purpose-built community center that Our Place now calls home was completed in 2007.

Today, Our Place offers a wide range of services to anyone in need. It serves over 1,500 meals a day, seven days a week; it has 45 private rooms available so people can have a safe place to sleep at night while they work toward independent living; it offers free showers and hygiene services; there are even mental, physical, and spiritual well-being options, veterinary services, educational resources, community activities like a choir, and so much more. These services offer more than just a warm meal or a bed–they offer hope to the people who need it most.

Volunteering with Our Place is a great way to help marginalized citizens of Victoria get back on their feet. It’s so rewarding to see firsthand how your work helps to elevate someone’s life, and Our Place gives you that opportunity. My own experience at Our Place involved helping to serve some of those 1500 meals a day at breakfast time. The experience showed how easy it was to help people who would normally go hungry. Working with Our Place illustrates that sometimes, the opportunity to make a big difference can be found very close to home.

For more information about Our Place, visit its website!

Changing the World with Live Different

So many people want to make the world a better place. It’s a noble goal: With billions of people around the globe living in poverty, over 780 million without clean water, and countless more that live in war zones, there’s a lot of room for improvement. But before we can change the world, first we need to change ourselves and we need to change how we live. In other words, we need to live different.

Thankfully, there’s already an incredible organization working hard to change how people live and change the world at the same time. Live Different is a Canadian charity that believes “the most important decision a person can make is to choose to live a life of compassion towards others.” While it offers a number of services, such as a cross-cultural academy and inspiring, motivational presentations, its main initiative is to take students and volunteers from across Canada on trips to places such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti to build homes, schools, and other types of buildings or infrastructure.

Live Different has built quite an impressive resume during its 16-year history. Throughout the organization’s lifetime, it’s given presentations to over 1.2 million students, mentored over 4,500 students, interns, and volunteers, and built over 400 homes, schools, and other projects.

I believe in the work that Live Different is doing to make the world a better place. I’ve been a longtime donor to the organization and I’ve gone on a number of building trips, and in 2006, I was fortunate enough to meet Vaden Earle, Live Different’s founder. Vaden is committed to building a brighter, more compassionate world, and he and I have worked closely over the years. In 2010, for example, after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, he and I visited the country to help rebuild and provide critical aid. Today, we’re collaborating on a book about our experiences there.

Working with Live Different and bringing change to communities around the world is always extremely rewarding. But with that being said, no feeling can compare to watching the young people and students on each trip react to the experience. They realize they have the power to make the world a better place, and many students even change their career aspirations so that they can spend the rest of their lives helping others. That’s part of what makes Live Different so incredible: It changes the lives of both people in the communities it serves as well as the people who participate in its programs.

For more information about Live Different, including how you can get involved, visit its website!

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