How To Donate Directly to Ukraine From Canada

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and since then we have been watching on our screens the horror and unimaginable suffering of a full-blown war. We are far away from those who are helping Ukrainians flee armed conflict and we want to help, but don't know the best way how. One way is to give money directly to The Ukrainian Red Cross. They are on the frontline of this war, helping people inside the country by aiding evacuations, mobilizing volunteers, collecting blood, and providing shelter, food and basic necessities. They have trained thousands of volunteers who, often at their own personal risk under the shelling, deliver humanitarian aid to help the injured, evacuees and those left behind in hotspots. Donating directly to the Ukrainian Red Cross ensures your support gets right into Ukraine. Keep in mind you won't get a tax receipt as this isn't a Canadian registered charity. But for those wanting to know their money is going straight to where it is needed as quickly as possible, this is a way to do that.

The Ukrainian Red Cross is providing aid for animals suffering in this war as well, delivering pet food to shelters.

You can donate from outside Ukraine by clicking here. Rosie.

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Vivier Pharma at Elton John's AIDS Foundation 30th Annual Oscars Viewing Party

The 30th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party took place on Sunday, March 27, in West Hollywood Park, LA. I was thrilled to attend with Vivier Pharma, a Canadian skin care company honoured to support EJAF for a second year in a row. The party was hosted by Lady Gaga, Billy Porter and Eric McCormack, alongside the chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, David Furnish.

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The star-studded gala featured a stunning performance by Brandi Carlile and raised $8.6 million for the Foundation's lifesaving work to end AIDS. Elton John and David Furnish's sons Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John (Lady Gaga's godsons) were also in attendance. A friend of David Furnish and a long time supporter of the Elton John AIDS foundation, I have a strong connection to the work that the foundation does as my beloved Auntie Valerie passed away from AIDS contracted through a blood transfusion.

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It was very important to me to dress for this special event as my authentic self, so I chose a beautiful Dsquared silk tuxedo with a custom NARCES half ball gown. The custom outfit allowed me to play with masculinity and femininity, not in drag, but as myself. My diamonds were generously provided by Maison Birks and my glowing skin is of course made possible by the incredible line of Vivier skin care products.

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Congratulations Vivier Pharma on your incredible philanthropy work worldwide, and specifically the life changing support you give to The Elton John Aids Foundation. The funds help frontline partners to prevent infections, fight stigma and provide treatment with love, compassion and dignity for the most vulnerable groups affected by HIV around the world. For more information about the incredible work this organization does, and to support them in their goal to end AIDS by 2030, visit the EJAF official website.

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Check out my exclusive interview in Los Angeles with Mike and Steve Vivier - Presidents of Vivier Pharma. JP xo

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Visiting Toronto's Distillery District in Winter

Every February one of the many ways we celebrate my son and brother's birthday is by taking a trip to the Distillery District. The last few years we have made the Toronto Light Fest our destination, but the festival has been paused during the pandemic so instead we take a trip to visit the shops, art installations, and then hot chocolate and treats from Balzac's. We've been bringing our little man there since he was two... now he's almost as big as his dad and loves the vibe of the area just as much! There's something really nice about visiting the Distillery when there isn't a major event going on... it's chill and so picturesque. The loveliest family time and tradition! Rosie :)

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The Distillery Historic District is located at 55 Mill Street in Toronto.

Vanessa Williams on The Evolution of Makeup for Black Women by Beauty Expert John-Paul Ricchio

Since Vanessa Williams became the first Black woman to win the Miss America crown in 1983, the world of beauty, skincare and makeup for dark skin has changed greatly. In this exclusive conversation with the legendary actor, singer, producer and fashion designer, we discuss the evolution of makeup for people of colour. It was such a great privilege to have such an open and candid conversation with the inspiring Ms. Williams- a true trailblazer and trendsetter. Enjoy... and when you are done watching, you can also read my full interview in the Toronto Star's Kit to learn about what products Vanessa Williams can't live without. JP xo

Applying for Autism Services & Funding in Ontario

Recently a friend of mine asked me for advice as his three-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with autism. A couple of years ago he wanted to know about early signs of autism in babies, and I directed him to the Geneva Centre which has a very clear guide to learn the early signs of autism and identify the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. Now that his daughter has received the diagnosis, he is quite distraught and confused, which is unsurprising as parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder well know, the days after receiving a diagnosis of autism are overwhelming as you try to determine the best course of therapy for your child. You are upset, exhausted, and quickly trying to figure out what to do and what services and funding you can access. The last thing on your mind is how to file your taxes or which forms and certificates you need to apply for credits and benefits.

But there are resources you are entitled to with a diagnosis of autism that you must apply for, and doing so will provide additional funding and support which every special needs family will benefit from. I made him this list of autism services and funding available in Ontario, and thought it would be beneficial to share for others searching for all this information in one place:

Here are the basics for a newly diagnosed family:

DISABILITY TAX CREDIT: REDUCES THE AMOUNT OF INCOME TAX YOU PAY ON YOUR TAXES:

The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other government programs such as the Child Disability Benefit (see below.) You have to apply for the DTC before you submit your taxes. For more information click here or phone the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281.

CHILD DISABILITY BENEFIT: TAX-FREE MONTHLY BENEFIT

The child disability benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.To get the child disability credit, you must be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (above). To get the DTV, you need a medical practitioner to certify for you Form T2201, the Disability Tax Credit Certificate. (see below.) For more information on the Child Disability Benefit click here or phone the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281.

DISABILITY TAX CREDIT CERTIFICATE: FORM T2201

To apply for the Disability Tax Credit, which you need to receive the Child Disability Benefit, you need a doctor to fill out the T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate, which you then send to the Canada Revenue Agency. Click here for that form.

SPECIAL SERVICES AT HOME FUNDING

The Special Services at Home program helps families who are caring for a child with a developmental and/or physical disability. Families will receive a lump sum every year they can use towards paying for special services in or outside your home. You can use this funding to pay for services such as respite support for your family to give yourself a break, or for programs that help your child learn new skills. Click here for info about the Special Services at Home funding, scroll down to the bottom of the page for the application form.

INCONTINENCE SUPPLIES GRANT PROGRAM:

This program is for children and youth between the ages of 3 to 18 years with chronic disabilities (physical or developmental) that result in irreversible incontinence or retention problems lasting longer than six months and requiring the use of incontinence supplies such as diapers, pull-ups or adult diapers like Depends. Keep your receipts as periodically the program will ask you to send them in so they can assess your usage. If you haven't kept your bills and are asked for them, they will give you a period of time to make purchases and collect the receipts. Click here for the info and form for the Easter Seals Ontario Incontinence Supplies Grant Program.

ONE TO ONE SUMMER SUPPORT WORKER REIMBURSEMENT FUND

This fund, provided by Autism Ontario, is intended to help parents pay for a support worker to accompany the child to a camp/program or on community outings. It can also apply to a support/respite worker who is working with your child in your home. The following types of expenses can be approved for reimbursement:

Respite services to support caregivers during the day, evening or weekend, at home or elsewhere (for example, supervision of the child or youth, help with daily living activities or taking child out for an activity); and fees for online or in-person recreational and cultural activities and camp programs that help to promote independence and develop social, communication and life skills (for example sports, arts and music programs, museums, and camps).

You have to apply every year and it's a lottery; you'll be notified if you are chosen and then reimbursed after you submit receipts. Click here for more details.

If I've missed anything you would like to see added to this post, please comment below or e-mail me. Hope this helps. Rosie :)