Someone once told Carleton student Shannon Tessier that a small group can’t make a big difference.
But when Tessier founded the charity organization CHANCE – which empowers children nationally and internationally in the areas of health, education and recreation – she proved that statement wrong.
“It doesn’t take that much to affect someone else’s life,” says Tessier. “People can make a difference, especially a small group of people.”
It all started when she got involved in a volunteer abroad program in Ecuador.
While volunteering in a South American hospital in 2007, Tessier learned more about San Cristobal, Ecuador – where half the population lives below the poverty line and infant mortality is five times higher than in Canada.
But volunteering her time wasn’t enough for Tessier.
“It’s amazing what little they have compared to what we have. I knew we had to do something,” she says.
That’s when Tessier founded CHANCE which stands for Charity of Hope to Assist the Needy Children Everywhere.
For the organization’s first project, Tessier helped a hospital called Oscar Jand which needed medical equipment.
Tessier met up with other people who wanted to help and in March 2008, sent gently-used medical equipment to the hospital which was worth $250,000.
“The whole hospital had one computer and in the shipment, we had eight. You should have seen their faces,” recalls Tessier. “They didn’t even have room to put anything anywhere.”
Since then, Tessier has expanded the goal of CHANCE providing better education and recreation for children. The goals of the organization are changed every two years, says Tessier.
For its work in education, CHANCE partnered with the Canadian charity SchoolBox Inc. to help build a new elementary school in Managua, Nicaragua.
This project also helps give people in the area jobs and all materials are purchased locally.
“It’s timeless,” says Tessier. “Generations of children can go through and use it.”
For the 2010-‘11 year, CHANCE is focusing on recreation and is partnering with the City of Ottawa and the Max Keeping Foundation.
Its partnership with the city will help build a play structure in Ottawa. With the Max Keeping Foundation, CHANCE wants to help Ottawa children take part in sports or arts activities. The ultimate goal is to raise $40,000 for these projects.
“We are all lucky to be Canadians, but there are still overlooked families and people in need right at our doorstep,” says Tessier.
In June 2009, she received the prestigious Young Woman of Distinction Award from the YMCA-YWCA in recognition of her volunteerism.
Tessier, who’s currently working on her PhD in science, said she works long hours but has support from her family and closest friends – who are also members of CHANCE.
She hopes to help countries in Africa and also more Canadian regions.
“I’ll always be a part of it,” says Tessier. “You can’t take CHANCE out of me yet.”
For more information on the CHANCE Foundation and upcoming events, visit their website: www.chancefoundation.ca