Draw a picture, help fundraise.

It’s a CONTEST! And one lucky child will be the winner!

Help Monaco Interiors fundraise for Out of the Cold, and let’s provide food and shelter for those who need it most. Read on to find out all about it.

Homelessness. Poverty. It’s a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable.

When I was 32, sixteen years ago, my friend Samantha Yarwood, suggested I join her at St. Michael’s of All Angels Church on a freezing December day, at 9am (let’s remember I was single, and it was a day off) to bring food, cook it and feed some 70 guests. Those 70 guests were all living well below the poverty line. Many of them homeless.

Thinking it would be a fun way to meet new people, and do some good, I went.  It was Christmas. We cooked turkey and stuffing and soups and salads. We had dessert and fruit and twenty pairs of hands helping out. It was amazing.  And then I walked into the gym-turned-dining room.

It was filled. And as I stood in the doorway, a man came over and introduced himself. His name was Paul. An aboriginal man who had, at a young age, become an addict. He was turning his life around. He was clean. Did we need any help? He asked.

Another guest, a very short, very proud and very bossy woman came over. Who are you? She asked me in a thick Spanish accent. I haven’t seen you here before.

On a piano in the hallway, a silent man played. His music brought tears to my eyes. His talent set my mind wandering. I thought he must have been a musician in his earlier life. A wonderful, celebrated musician. What happened? What brought this man, who never spoke, but played so beautifully, to this place now. A place where he wore tattered clothing. He never looked up. He clearly had no home.  How could this be?

I felt sheltered. I felt privileged. I felt so sad. In all my years, I had always been a charitable person. But to stand here, amongst these guests, and hear their stories and see their talents. Well, it was quite overwhelming.

How fortunate, that every Sunday, from Thanksgiving until Easter, there are great people who volunteer with the Out of the Cold Foundation. (More info on them below)

In the 16 years since that first Christmas lunch, I have gone to that very same church every winter, on one Sunday or three, and fed many of those same people. I have met artists, card sharks, grandparents with photos of grandchildren, world travelers, historians, linguists and philosophers. 

They smile. They say thank you. They compliment the soup. They are so grateful. I am more grateful. For they have given me the opportunity to feel good about myself. They have allowed me the chance to make a tiny difference.

But as the room had once been filled with adults of all ages, now there are children. Now I watch the children grow. From one year to the next, I get hugs, stories, and laughter.

The man with the piano disappeared a few years ago. So, did both Paul and the bossy woman whose name I simply cannot remember. But new people come. The room is never empty unless it’s Superbowl Sunday.

We walk the streets of our great city, stepping past, often turning our heads, not wanting to see the poverty around us.

According to the last available statistics, there are 375,000 people living in poverty in the GTA. 5000 of them are homeless. 1 in 4 are children. Staggering isn’t it. Men, women, children, people who are physically or mentally challenged. Many who have faced incredible tragedy, have been failed by our systems, or were simply forgotten.

Now, I am older. I turned 48 just yesterday. I married. And my two kids came twice last year to help me with those lunches. They are learning how lucky they are. They are learning not to judge. Empathy and kindness. Gifts we give them so they too can make a little difference.

But as the years go by, I feel a constant tug. There must be more I can do. Just a little more. Spread the word, get others involved. I belong to a business networking group (BNI), and our chapter has volunteered for one lunch every year for over ten years now. Many of our members have branched off to run another Sunday lunch on their own.

That’s great. Makes me happy to know that from my efforts, other are inspired to do the same. From my first time with my friend Samantha, to now with my children and friends and business associates, the branches are spreading.

I own a company. I have followers. I can spread the word even more. And the foundation, Out of the Cold, could put our fundraising efforts to great use. They can use it for food, for shelter, for clothing or for any of their other branches that help the homeless and the poor.

So, this year, and hopefully it works, so every year, we are going to start a new project.

Now all of you can help. And in the simplest of ways.

What Home Means to Me

A contest to raise a little money for Out of The Cold.

Here’s how it works:

We would like to have children, ages 0 to 12, submit a drawing themed “What Home Means to Me”.

We will choose a few from all the submissions and post them online for voting.

The winner of the contest will have their image screened on T-shirts which we will sell for $20 each from the date the contest closes. The winner will receive a free T-shirt.

All the proceeds from the sale of these T-Shirts will go directly to Out of the Cold.

How to Proceed:

Contest begins NOW!! Submissions must be in my hands or email box by November 25th. The winner will be announced November 28th.

  1. Ask every child you know to create their drawing. The artist should write their name (first name or both first and last) and age on the front, along with a sentence describing what home means to them.
  2. Send me a scan of the drawing, mail it to us (address below) or if you are local, I will pick it up from you.
  3. Drawing can be full colour on an 8 ½” x 11” white paper (letter size).
  4. Remember that by submitting your drawing, you are allowing us to publish the artists name and age. First names only.
  5. Once the winner is announced, we will collect the original drawing and have the shirts printed on an as-ordered basis.
  6. If the winner and their parents are okay with it, we will post a photo of the winner! But only if it’s totally okay with you.
  7. Once the contest starts, and again when the T-shirts are ready to go, please share, like, post and spread the word!!

For emails of the images please send to info@monacointeriors.ca

If you are mailing send to: 15213 Yonge Street, Unit 10, Aurora, ON L4G 1L8.

If you would like me to pick it up, just send me an email at the above address.

Please make sure they are packed flat, with support, so they don’t crease.

Together, we can do a little something for the people in our city. And what better time than this holiday season, as I am sure these T-shirts will make great gifts!!

So please, my ask for this season: send this to everyone you know. Make the project fun with your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren and your friends’ kids. Make it fun. Tell them why we need their wonderful artwork. Share with them the good it will do. And let’s, together, raise a little money, and pay it all forward.

Out of the Cold Foundation

Out of the Cold is an interfaith program that strives to respond in a meaningful way to the basic physical needs of shelter, food and warm clothing for the less fortunate members of our society – as well as to respond to the deeply human needs of compassion, dignity and feelings of self-worth.

Out of the Cold was founded in 1988 and has since evolved into an extensive emergency response and homeless prevention program supported by an inter-faith community and a strong volunteer base inspired by its Foundress and Spiritual Director, Sister Susan Mary Moran, OLM.

For more information, or to donate please follow this link:


I look forward to all the wonderful art coming our way!

Please feel free to contact us for any further information.

Have a terrific day,


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