The Mikuska Group  

Finding inspiration

It can be easy to be cynical, to hunker down and be mired in one’s own life. It can be even easier to ignore others’ troubles and pain. What I love most about what we do is that we see everyday heroes who make a difference in their world.

One of our clients has especially inspired me to share my love of good food and cooking with a group of teens. Food Matters Manitoba creates opportunities for kids and new Canadians to learn how to choose and prepare good food to promote healthy eating. I had a chance to chat with their staff before I proposed a cooking class to students in an alternative program in south Winnipeg – their tips were very helpful.

The kids were all enthusiastic about good food! We decided to prepare lasagne and homemade buns. When preparation was underway, one young man declared that this was the first time he had ever cut up a fresh vegetable. Imagine being a teenager and never having had the opportunity to cut up a carrot! He was especially proud of his contribution to the meal. Another said he had eaten lasagna before, but never knew exactly what went into it. He had two helpings.

I’m especially appreciative that they allow me to share this experience with them, to see their delight at what they’ve accomplished. I look forward to our next cooking adventure – this time we’re preparing tourtière and pea soup.

Who has inspired you lately?

Laura Mikuska


Excuses are not an apology

I have been a donor to a local social impact organization for several years, giving money and goods such as coats and socks because I believe they do good work in the community.

In December, I decided to give my year-end gift through Canada Helps, because it’s convenient and I seldom write cheques anymore, let alone mail one. I also decided to practice what I preach and signed up for monthly giving which would increase the overall amount I give yearly.

I received my tax receipt instantly from Canada Helps, of course. But that’s a transaction, not a thank you.

I waited almost seven weeks to receive a thank you from the organization itself. None arrived. So I wrote to the executive director and told him about my experience and said I had yet to receive thanks from him (which were prompt when I mailed or brought in a cheque the previous years).

His response? Not an apology to a faithful donor, but this:

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Acknowledging gifts and thanking donors is something I wish to improve at (the organization) but the challenge I have faced is limited resources and time.”

He goes on to say:

“Thanks to ongoing support such as yours, (the organization) added another staff member last month. (She) will help improve the service of our guests and assist me with the many donation and administration duties so we can better serve everyone associated with (the organization).”

Excuses are not an apology.

He completely missed the point. It’s not about him. His first response should have been to pick up the phone and apologize. But even in an email, the first thing he needed to say was, “I’m so sorry. You are important to us and you should not have had to wait to hear it!”

I know small organizations struggle. But until they realize that we as donors give where we’re appreciated, they will continue to struggle. Because there are many other places I can give to have an impact in the world. And now I will.

Julie Mikuska


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