Together We Rise! Toronto Hip Hop Cultural Centre

Toronto Hip Hop

Toronto Hip Hop

““No = Next Opportunity” is a mindset that was ingrained in me as a young boy.

When I fell in love with Hip Hop and the art of break dancing I knew my life would never be the same. I was a skilled soccer player and coach, a black belt in martial arts, an avid golf, basketball, volleyball, and baseball player, but I fell in love with breaking. I say without hesitation, breaking saved my life and I am honoured to be at the helm of a movement to bring back Hip Hop to its most real and pure form; when race, class, gender, ability, and economics did not matter.

My passion for dance came from my parents. Every Sunday my parents danced together in our kitchen. Never mind if they’d been arguing the entire week. Sunday was the day that it all would fall to the wayside; and, my parents would dance and everyone would be happy and smiling. Truth be told, it was my mother that encouraged me to pursue dance because she said girls love boys that can dance and I was good at it. Salsa, merengue, popping, locking, breaking; I was, and still am, a great dancer; and I love to dance and it shows.

In the early morning hours, my father would leave our home in Jane and Finch to travel three hours to Union Station, where he shined shoes. He took pride in what he did, and he was the best at it. My father instilled in me that whatever it is you choose to do in your life be the best at it and always give 100%. When you have mastered what you “Love” to do and pride and ego does not impede your judgment, then and only then, do you have power and control over your destiny.

Never would I have imagined that the eldest son of Mexican immigrants would be facilitating a workshop on the topic of “Resilience” for immigrant women, each having experienced some form of trauma and its aftermath – PTSD; or putting on a workshop for autistic children and teaching them how to break dance, the art of DJ’ing and graffiti. Still clear to the day, I remember the sweet sound of a young girl on the mic throwing down some lyrics with DJ DTS on the “wheels of steel” and MC Jaba cheering her on.

I am passionate about the power of Hip Hop as a culture and as a formidable movement. We have a very strong and culturally diverse team of highly skilled creative arts professionals working together to enhance the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of children and youth of all ages, abilities, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. We provide a home and safe haven for them to express themselves through Hip Hop. We execute programming that unites, educates, and empowers children and youth as they perfect their chosen artistic form of expression in one or all of the four elements of Hip Hop – BBoying (break dancing), MC’ing, graffiti, and DJ’ing. The fifth element of Hip Hop “Knowledge” is what we are bringing.

The Toronto Hip Hop Cultural Centre inspires, motivates, and engages the children and youth of Toronto that are often failing in their attempts to navigate the world. We are helping them to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood, often a real-life struggle, less challenging

We are the bridge to get these children and youth to where they want to be.   At the very least, we are opening their minds up to opportunities and giving them access to arenas that they may not be able to access on their own. As for myself, a well-respected elder and leader in the Hip Hop community it is my duty to do whatever I can do to push these children and youth up so that they can soar even higher than I was ever able to.

Our ‘success’ is their ‘success’. That said, at the very least, we must try.

‘Together We Rise’.”
Freddy ‘Freeze’ Lopez

For more on this awesome project, check out it’s crowdfunding campaign page:




Helping Deported Sanjay to Start Again


“I started this campaign the moment my friend Sanjay told me that his dreams of safety and freedom in Australia were over.

We met 2 years ago when I decided I wanted to do more about the way Australia was treating asylum seekers and accepted an invitation to MITA, one of Melbourne’s two immigration detention centres.

When I got there (only 20 minutes’ drive from Brunswick) I couldn’t understand the high security fences, uniformed guards and complicated rules when I was visiting people who had committed no crime and were seeking Australia’s protection.

Sanjay – who had already been several years in detention – welcomed me warmly, made me some tea and introduced me to all his friends. The contrast with the high-security environment was enormous!

Visiting soon became a weekly event and my sons joined me to keep company with 3 brothers (aged 13, 11 and 10) who were detained there with their mum. We had found a community of friends in a place where human rights were routinely denied.

Two years down the track, many of these friends feel like family, and the visiting community has been gutted to hear that Sanjay must return to Sri Lanka.

One of his friends summed it up perfectly when she posted on social media, ‘Completely heartbroken… Australia has rejected one of my dearest friends application to seek asylum. HOW are we allowed to take so many years from a person to then tell them “no”?….

‘(Sanjay) you wonderful human … Thank you for changing my life. Your friendship and your story have driven my everlasting passion and need to support all people seeking asylum in this country. I am so sorry we have taken so many years from you.’

This response was echoed through our loose community of friends and advocates. We couldn’t overturn the decision but we needed to do something to help.

When I finally got Sanjay on the phone, he kept saying ‘I have no idea about my life’.

That seeded the idea. What if we could create some certainty, at least in terms of finding a home and accessing health care? Money was never going to replace freedom and safety, but it could make life a bit easier.

We agree to crowdfund through Chuffed and Sanjay’s mate Tom Ballard came on board to give us a boost. Tom also put his money where his mouth was, and recruited family members who have also given generously.

We’re rapt that our campaign has kicked off so strongly, and will give Sanjay the last word: ‘Thank you so so much…. I have no words to say for your very big help, I really, really appreciate it’.”

Head to Janet’s crowdfunding campaign page to learn more about Sanjay and how you can support his cause:

Building a Home for the Homeless in Nepal

Michelle and family

Michelle and family

I’m Michelle, a therapist for special needs children and also a photographer based in Hong Kong. Around a year ago, I started travelling around Nepal for my photography. The intention was to widen my vision with the world and document my experiences with photographs.

Unexpectedly, I fell in love with Nepal because of the people and their peaceful lifestyle. In particular, a place called Namobuddha, makes me feel so much like home, it’s where I find peace and quiet amongst the chaos of the world. When I revisited Namobuddha in March 2017, I was shocked to learn how many are homeless and the stories behind them, with the help of my monk friend Paldon. To me, having a home is a fundamental need.

Rosanne Carter once said “There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.” As a therapist, I could imagine what mental and psychological states these homeless people must have gone through and are still going through. So Paldon and I decided to build a community home for them, and when I returned to Hong Kong I would try to help as much as I could with the funding.

Crowdfunding was my immediate go-to solution as I knew whatever funding I could raise would go to building the community home for these homeless people in Namobuddha. And also this way, I could make it global and expose the story to a wider audience in hope to gain as much funding as I could. has definitely made this easy for me!”

Learn more about this great cause on Michelle’s campaign page below:

Our Bees Need You: Malcolm and the Newbattle Beekeepers Association



“In 1980 when I was living in Zambia. I was working with ZCCM, a state-owned mining company in their commercial farming venture. We kept bees in traditional hives and sold the honey produced in the farm shops which were part of the farming estate. It was very popular with our many customers and my interest in the honeybee was born.

Thirty-four years later I paid a visit to the Royal Highland Show honey tent. This rekindled my interest in bees but I knew that I needed to learn more if I was to establish my own apiary. I decided to undertake a beekeeping course at Newbattle Abbey College, not far from the city of Edinburgh. I then joined Newbattle Beekeepers Association and now have six colonies of bees at my Apiary in the West Lothian countryside. I continue my membership of the Association where I meet with both novice and experienced beekeepers and expand my knowledge of the honeybee, a most fascinating creature.

The association maintains an apiary in the grounds of the college which was gifted to the people of Scotland in 1937 by Philip Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian to be used as a residential adult education college. The main building dates from the sixteenth century.

I find Newbattle a magical place steeped in history with ancient woodland and parkland. I look forward to every visit. Over the past year the Association has expanded its range of activities and it now has a greater focus on education and training. Unfortunately, there is no adequate accommodation for training sessions, meetings and study groups. The college trustees have come to the rescue and offered a ten-year lease on a WW2 wooden hut adjacent to the main college building which was last used in 1950. As you can imagine, it is in a state of disrepair and needs extensive renovations and refurbishment. The association plans to refurbish the building and establish the Newbattle Bee Academy.

I have also become aware of the decline in the honeybee population. A recent review by the University of Reading and Friends of the Earth shows that: – Honeybee colonies fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005 – Wild honeybees are thought to be nearly extinct – Bee diversity has declined in 52% of British landscapes For these reasons, I am convinced that our bees do need us. I am confident that we will make a meaningful contribution in helping to reverse the decline in the bee population by training the next generations of beekeepers. I am passionate that the Bee Academy becomes a reality.

This is why I readily became involved in the Chuffed campaign and also decided to launch my own fundraiser campaign in support of the main campaign!”

For more, check out Malcolm and the Newbattle Beekeepers Association’s campaign page:

Community Yoga Making a Difference in Austin, Texas!

Community Yoga, Austin
Community Yoga, Austin
“My name is Daniel Goldstein, and I have been involved with Community Yoga Austin for almost four years now. As research began to come out about the mental and physical health benefits of meditation and other mindfulness practices, a good friend of mine, Shawn Kent suggested I look into joining Community Yoga Austin.

The mission of Community Yoga is to offer the practices of yoga, mindfulness and other evidenced-based wellness programming to underserved communities who may not otherwise have access. Their commitment is to facilitate personal empowerment and social change by unlocking the inherent value of our communities.

Community Yoga Austin uses yoga and mindfulness practices to help those in our community who have high levels of stress in trauma in their lives. We have three programs focused on elementary school students, high school students, and incarcerated persons. One of our goals is to break the often reported ‘school-to-prison’ pipeline. We hope others will support us in our mission!”

Check out Daniel’s crowdfunding campaign here:

Success Story: HOPE

Hope Worldwide Pakistan

Hope Worldwide Pakistan

“I feel honoured to share my commitment to making a stand for social justice.

I was born and raised in Pakistan. Within this society, I have observed and learnt discrimination against gender preferences, gender roles, disability, mental illness, discrimination and religious intolerance. I had always been of an altruistic nature, and during this period of my life I realized social work, as a career, would allow me to practice altruism on a larger scale, gaining emotional gratification.

I stood for equality which means a fair distribution of each of the capacities and treating everyone equally, especially in rights and opportunities.

In March 1998 I have started a charitable, non governmental, human rights Organization named HOPE Worldwide-Pakistan (Humanitarian Organization for Poverty Eradication) for the rights of women and disabled people in the society. HOPE’s work broadened and the organization became one of the human rights organizations in Pakistan.

I migrated to New Zealand in 2008. Changing to a new country and different culture was a big challenge for me but my passion to help underprivileged people didn’t stop. I learnt about the NZ system, gained qualifications and now I am working with Disability and Mental Health Services, with individuals who have intellectual disabilities, challenging behaviour and mental illness, to make positive changes in their lives and to participate in their communities. The job entails working alongside a multi-disciplinary team like social workers, mental health practitioners, psychologists, occupational therapists and nurses. This opportunity has greatly improved my skills and has given me a valuable insight into this field.

Below is more information on my organisation and crowdfunding cause:

HOPE Worldwide-Pakistan was initially established on 23rd March 1998 in Pakistan with a mission to uplift, support and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. HOPE started to work for women empowerment, child education, and youth empowerment. By 2004, HOPE’s work scattered and recognized at local regional and at international level. As we all know that Pakistani Christians always been treated as third class citizen in Pakistan. It became much harder for Christians, when Pakistan’s late military ruler Mohammed Ziaul Haq, introduced 295 BC in country’s blasphemy law in 1986. Since then Blasphemy law has been misused by fundamentalist Muslims where they use this law as a weapon against Christian to persecute. In the result of misuse of law there were range of attacks on Christian minorities and many houses, churches and colonies were burnt and Christians are living a scary life.

However HOPE was a small organization but being a Christian leaders and Lords soldiers we jumped into and started Free Legal Aid and Awareness Protection Program (FLAAP) in 2007 to provide legal aid to falsely accused victims. In 2008 HOPE was supporting victims and organized a campaign “TO stop misuse of Blasphemy Law”. In 2011, alongside with our Christian brothers and sisters here in New Zealand we have organized successful campaign “To stop killing innocent Christians in Pakistan and to stop misuse of Blasphemy Law in Pakistan.

In 2013 when we have received further information about people fleeing to Thailand. This was the time we came to know more about these stranded asylum seekers and refugees in Bangkok. We took initiative and started Bangkok Asylum Seeker Support Program. Under this program, we helped and are still working with families those been persecuted in Pakistan and now suffering and stranded in Bangkok.

In October 2016, group of like minded people gathered and came up with an idea of re-establishing an organization for the betterment of people and agreed to carry on working for this Godly cause but as more structured. Finally, HOPE Worldwide-Pakistan has been formed in New Zealand with its mission to promote and safeguard the fundamental human rights of vulnerable groups whose lives have been traumatized by disasters, poverty, persecution or discrimination. Transforming lives by acknowledging people’s strengths/needs and walking alongside to improve livelihoods have been always main core purpose of the organization. HOPE seeks to go beyond addressing the consequences of poverty by understanding, challenging and changing the environment that causes poverty and exclusion.”

You can sign this petition link here

Support HOPE’s crowdfunding campaign here:

Success Story: Ben Paynter Leukaemia Funds

Jacynta-Lee and Ben

Jacynta-Lee and Ben

“Four Weeks ago, our good friend Ben Paynter had been suddenly diagnosed with A.L.L Leukaemia. It wasn’t a diagnosis that anyone was expecting, as he just had a sore back and didn’t feel 100%.

Our brains went into overdrive, trying to find a way that we can help our dear friend, but since it is an illness only he and the doctors can fix, there was not much that we could do.

I (Jacynta-lee) signed up to become a blood donor and collected bone marrow donation registration forms knowing that the little things like that won’t be able to help Ben directly, but it will contribute to the treatment of other people having to deal with the same illness. My partner Luke Peters (pictured) has also helped to raise funds for Ben.

We then did some research on ways to raise money, knowing that he will need money since he cannot work and is living away from home (Tamworth). seemed like the best place to start, so we created the campaign, got a few donations then launched it. By the end of that day, we had raised $2,475!

We quickly got to work and created a poster and shared the link to his campaign over social media. With the help of a few locals we gathered some prizes for a raffle and started selling the tickets!

We have now raised $5,455 in just over 2 weeks!

Our ultimate goal is to raise $20,00 over the course of his treatment in order to help pay for his basic living needs as an outpatient. We would just like to thank everybody that has contributed on helping raise these funds, it is greatly appreciated!”

Learn more about Jacynta-lee’s campaign for her dear friend Ben here:

Community Leader: Lauren

Meet Lauren Greenwood,’s Community Leader based in Austin. Lauren’s passion for animal welfare led her to found Read more to learn how Lauren’s passion for the protection of domestic animals fuelled her to develop skills in event management and crowdfunding…

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career (or life) so far.

I have volunteered for and supported animal shelters across the country for over two decades. I love animals – I have an assortment of animals including pets, fosters, ferals, and wildlife. To connect people to shelters, shelters to each other, rescue groups, and their communities, I founded – named after our first rescue cat!

Why did you decide to become a community leader?

I became involved with Chuffed when looking at ways to raise funds for so the organisation can provide even more support to shelters and the people owned by shelter pets worldwide.

How did your crowdfunding journey begin? 

Word of mouth and lots of Google searches – I was looking for a way of funding that was community based. I strongly believe in a culture that teaches families, friends, and children that a caring community is important – and collecting small donations from around the globe is a way for people to come together to do something that improves local communities. Crowdfunding works for me because I am looking to make small improvements worldwide with a network of shelters.

What social cause are passionate about and why?

The welfare of animals shelters, shelter animals, shelter staff and volunteers, fosterers and adopters. These dedicated people are a wonderful community to be part of – and together make a huge difference to each other’s lives.

What relevant fundraising or other experience do you have that you can share with participants in the workshop?

I have done fundraising at a grassroots level for, and have planned and hosted annual fundraisers and other events for the shelters for which I volunteered. I also have learnt to network within the global community while developing the shelter directory.

What social cause project or campaign on Chuffed will the funds raised through the workshop support?

Funds raised will support the varied needs of AskMrFrisky – veterinary care, shelter repair and general supplies. We are also looking to hire a new staff member part time so we can hasten the development of the worldwide directory of shelters. I am currently working on a book to self publish for which the funds will help sustain the funding!


Success Story: Keep Graeme on the Hop!

Peace Bus Team

Peace Bus Team

“A mutual friend in Canberra recommended an event to me. It was the Anzac Eve Peace Vigil, which Graeme Dunstan organises – a lantern lit lamentation at the Australian War Memorial. Deeply moving and truly beautiful.

Later when I interviewed him for community radio 2XX, I learned Graeme had a long history of organising beautiful events including the mythic and transformative 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival and that he is esteemed as a peace warrior, a culture hero and inspiration by many.

Wanting to move closer to him, I participated in some of his Peacebus missions, peace vigils, peace camps and barrack gate SpeakOuts, helping out best i could to rig his colourful banners and flag displays.

That was when I became aware of Graeme as an honourable elder with a limp.

Full time nomad, he had not got himself on any waiting list and now the pain was wearying him.

I wanted him to continue his peace pilgrimage. I had already run two successful campaigns with to help other activist friends keep going in hard times, so it seemed an easy thing to offer to set up a fundraiser for get Graeme a new hip

I have met wonderful people around Graeme’s campfires: fantastic funky caring people who also loved Graeme’s work.

We talked the crowd funding idea over with some his peace movement and formed a team. They supported us and offered to help in a variety of ways. In particular I want to acknowledge the kindness and love of Quaker Grannies, Dawn Joyce, Peri Coleman and Helen Bayes.

When we launched the campaign Graeme’s many friends and supporters jumped in to help with large and small donations!.

Always the fear of offending when asking for help but what a Buddha field of love opens up when generosity is put into practice.

I was nervous about this re-connecting with his friends and thrusting the hat. To the contrary it became a joyous affair. Graeme was much affirmed and his friends delighted to affirm him.

This story of generosity, we feel, is good medicine for people near and far. Social capital spiked.

May others be inspired. For Peace. For justice. For the Earth. To the dust!”

Check out Graeme’s awesome campaign page:

Community Leader: Poppy

Meet Poppy Liu,’s Community Leader based in New York. Poppy combines arts and activism to promote social justice to destigmatize stories around sex, body, intimacy and identity – read about her amazing work and to see how  crowdfunding can help build a community!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career (or life) so far.

Poppy is a queer first generation Chinese-American actress, poet and the founder of the storytelling initiative and production company Collective Sex which has the mission of “decolonizing storytelling.”

Names of Women, a short film about abortion, was created by Collective Sex’s all femme film team and is currently on an ongoing national tour to college campuses and community spaces in collaboration with various reproductive justice organizations such as #ShoutYourAbortion, Planned Parenthood, Abortion Care Network, Center for Reproductive Rights and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Collective Sex’s newest project is titled “Mercy Mistress”, a web series based on the autobiographical story of a queer Chinese-American professional dominatrix living in New York City. This web series is pro sex work and pro intersectional feminism.

Why did you decide to become a community leader?

I had an amazing experience working with Chuffed during my campaign Names of Women. It is clear that building community with genuine care is woven deep in the Chuffed company fabric and I am very excited about supporting that mission.

How did your crowdfunding journey begin? 

In the artistic and activist worlds, raising funds can be challenging. Particularly with the work we do through Collective Sex, it’s really important to us that this work does not get watered down through corporate investment or commercialization. It is a creative challenge to find a super aligned financial model when it comes to doing pro-liberation anti-oppression activism work.
This is why we opted for crowdfunding. Everything we build is grassroots: built from the community in order to serve our communities. This felt like the most aligned way to realize our mission.

What social cause are passionate about and why?
Destigmatizing stories around sex, body, intimacy and identity
Reproductive Justice
Intersectional Gender Justice
LGBTQ Rights
Trans Rights
Storytelling as a form of healing + liberation
Immigrant stories
API solidarity + healing

What relevant fundraising or other experience do you have that you can share with participants in the workshop?

I ran a successful $20,000 campaign last year on Chuffed called Names of Women which is centered around abortion and reproductive justice. I am currently working on another crowdfunding campaign through Chuffed called Mercy, Mistress which is about destigmatizing sex work, BDSM and liberating the strong Asian-American woman character.

What social cause project or campaign on Chuffed will the funds raised through the workshop support?

Mercy, Mistress – the campaign will be live on August 21 for a 90 day campaign – watch this space