Every month when we feature a Little Leader on the blog my jaw drops because I am so inspired and taken aback by the amazing things that are happening in and around my community. Today’s blog post is no different and I am SO excited to share Catherine’s story and how she started Catherine’s Cause.
Take it away Catherine!
My name is Catherine Okolita, I am a Kindness Advocate, Philanthropist, Pediatric Ambassador and an Entrepreneur; I am 13 years old and I founded Catherine’s Cause – A Community Initiative when I was just 5 years old!
Catherine’s Cause is dedicated to being a community helper; seeing what needs to be done and jumping in to do it! I believe that everyone is capable of kindness and when we each choose to do something in kindness, no matter how small, great things happen!
How It Started
My interest in helping my community began at the age of 5 when I visited a park in my hometown of Fort Qu’Appelle. My mom said we would not return until the park was cleaned up. She basically said: “Someone needs to do something about this.” Words I took to heart. That evening as my mom tucked me into bed, I said: “Momma, I AM someone… And I’m going to clean up that park”. We did clean up that park and it was the spark of many more initiatives and projects.
How It’s Grown
The goal and objective of Catherine’s Cause – A Community Initiative is to be a Community Helper and spread kindness. With each project that can look a little different; I like to keep things fun and inspired and not be committed to only one way of doing things and ultimately I want to help as many people as possible and/or contribute to groups who are also striving to help others!
Sometimes, it’s as simple as I hear or learn about something going on or a project and I just have a feeling that I want to be involved with contributing to it, either with a donation of money or products or giving my time to it! Since starting Catherine’s Cause, I have been able to raise and donate over $250,000 in cash and in-kind items to a variety of amazing groups! One of my biggest and probably most well-known fundraisers is my Annual Regina NICU Online Auction.
This year my 9yo sister Vivienne helped me and we ran the 5th Annual NICU auction over four days with people bidding on over 850 donated items and services; sharing, liking posts and participating in so many other ways. I absolutely love to do this auction, it’s such a great way for people to feel involved, no matter what their capacity; they’re part of something really special, and that is AMAZING!!
While the auction took place in early March, for me, the work starts the end of January and doesn’t end until the end of March. I work ahead in my school all year so that I can take time off for this project, it’s basically a full time job! There are a lot of steps involved in a project this size and I don’t have a team, so it is both a demanding but rewarding process; the time and work I put in pays off in a huge way; the money raised helps save babies lives, you just can’t beat that and it’s really fun too! This year the 2022 auction raised $70,307.00, bringing my 5 year NICU donation total to $191,283.00!
Through all of my initiatives, I have been really fortunate and successful in getting involvement from the community, individuals, businesses of all sizes as well as corporate donations by sharing my story, kindness, positivity and simply by asking. I have found that often folks don’t know you need or are looking for help and if you approach them with an idea or request, they are often very excited to be involved. Lots of people want to be part of positive and impactful initiatives they just might not not know where to start or want to be the one initiating it.
Some of the projects I have contributed to over the years include:
- Regina Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
- Souls Harbour Rescue Mission
- Four Seasons Pediatric Ball
- Canadian Mental Health Assoc – Sask Division
- Local Food Banks & Friendship Centre
- Children’s Book Donations
- Diabetes Canada
- Family Christmas Hampers
- Cancer Support Group
- Various Animal Rescues & Humane Societies
- Pasqua Palliative Care
- Started a Seniors’ Secret Santa Program
- Family Literacy Programming
- Children’s Art Programming
- Fort Qu’Appelle Fire Department & Regional Library
- Calling Lakes Eco Museum
- Community & Park Clean Ups
- Fort Qu’Appelle Elementary Playground Project
- Kapachee Little Tots Playground Equipment
- Fort Qu’Appelle Lion’s Club Playground Project
- And many more
I try to lend myself and my platform to sharing kindness and helping others whenever and as often as I can. Everyone deserves kindness.
Taking It One Step Further
Throughout my years fundraising, I have been able to do some really amazing collaborations, and in order to expand my giving and fundraising even further, my sister and I are launching a business called Prairie Kind!
Each product featured in Prairie Kind will be created intentionally with a focus on kindness and giving back to communities and organizations that are important to YOU the purchaser. We will be working on exclusive collaborations with makers and businesses creating one of a kind items that are beautiful, functional and impactful. When you shop prairiekind.ca (our website isn’t up and running just yet, but be sure to check back soon!) your purchase will ALWAYS make a difference. You will not only support local Canadian makers and businesses but upon checkout, you will have the opportunity to choose an organization or group that the proceeds from your purchase will go to! I’m super excited about the opportunity to grow Prairie Kind and our giving across Canada.
Change the World with Kindness
The motto of Catherine’s Cause – A Community Initiative is “Change the World with Kindness” and it is something I set out to do intentionally each day. As a Kindness Advocate, I know that one of our greatest strengths is being kind; kindness gives hope, brings joy, it is contagious and limitless in its power; kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give.
Five little words, “Change the World with Kindness” so simple, yet so powerful, a mindset that can apply to everything we do in both life AND in business. Today and every day, I encourage you to Change the World with Kindness!