When the Little Voice team set out to create Little Voice Books they knew they wanted to create a business that would publish unique children’s books and serve as a platform to give back.
And so, they decided to create a social enterprise.
A Social Enterprise is defined as “an organization that advances or fulfills a social purpose through a business model or revenue-generating component of their operations”. This dual purpose supports not only the growth of the organization but also the growth of the communities it serves.
Little Voice’s mission and vision was founded in this very definition: to create awareness for causes and initiatives through the power of literature and illustration and to support the programs and services that serve to make a difference in our communities through the sale of our books.
A special blog post from Little Voice’s illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor
The 2017 launch of LVB’s newest book The Lighthouse has enabled me to explore my own journey with mental illness and to share it with others. Sharing my struggle was not always easy; in my first attempt at opening up on our blog I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable and exposed. Looking back, I am proud of how far I’ve come in my recovery and how much my life has changed for the better. With that said, I don’t want my story to be the focus of my advocacy work in support of mental health, but rather the enabler to amplify the conversation, particularly as it relates to eating disorders.
And so, I once more take pen to pad in an effort to promote Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Canada, which is taking place from February 1st to 7th. This year’s theme is One Size DOESN’T Fit All – a theme I not only relate to but commend. You see, when we often think of mental health, and even eating disorders, we begin to classify people – we try to fit people in boxes, boxes with labels. This year’s campaign recognizes that eating disorders affect people of all sizes, genders, races, sexual orientation and socio-economic backgrounds.
For the fourth year in a row, Little Voice Books is excited to join The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County in the Walk for Dementia! This powerful community event has brought people together since 1996 who have been impacted by alzheimer’s or a related dementia to raise funds for much-needed programs and services.
In August 2017, the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County became The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County to more properly reflect the constituency it helps and the scope of its expertise. And so, the Walk For Alzheimer’s became the Walk for Dementia.
While the name has changed, the goal remains the same!
When an individual receives a dementia diagnosis their life changes forever. So does that of their closest family or friends who often take on the role of caregiver. The majority of people who approach us for help, or are referred, are walking the dementia journey as a caregiver, spouse, child or close friend. On other occasions an individual who has been diagnosed with dementia will connect to us. Some of our social programs and education offerings are designed for caregivers to attend with their loved ones.
By offering caring and supportive counsel, dementia and caregiver information, education, referrals and help navigating the health and social care system as well as social, recreational and caregiver peer support The Dementia Society helps over 7,500 people every year and receives the support of thousands of donors, volunteers and supporters to sustain our efforts. This is truly a community organization working for its community.
– The Dementia Society
And just like that another year has come and gone…
2017 was a BIG year! We celebrated three years in business, with a growing audience of 4,000+; published our newest book The Lighthouse; established the Be the Light Campaign in support of the National Canadian Mental Health Association; continued our fundraising efforts in support of Alzheimer’s research by participating in the 2017 Walk For Alzheimer’s; hosted eight book signings in our hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; launched our brand new website; made it on Indigo.ca; and supported three new movements in our community. While all of this was pretty big, something even bigger happened in 2017.
By taking the leap from one book title to two, Little Voice decided it was time to grow! While Amanda and Samantha originally created Little Voice with the goal of publishing one book, they realized with the launch of The Lighthouse that they had the passion and drive to publish many more! And so, Little Voice became Little Voice Books – a local Ottawa publishing house with the goal of creating awareness for causes and initiatives through the power of literature and illustration.
Little Voice Books is so thrilled to be able to fill a gap in literature by creating children’s books that trigger a meaningful conversation, whether it is through the words on the page or the illustrations that accompany them.
Did you know refugees have been part of Canada’s cultural mosaic since before Confederation? Consecutive waves of refugees have helped build modern Canada, starting with the Quakers and Black Loyalists that fled the American Revolution in the 1770s, followed by Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Chilean, Bengali, Indochinese, Kosovar, Karen, Bhutanese, Iraqi and, most recently, Syrian refugees, among others.
In 2016, approximately 46,000 refugees arrived in Canada in search for a better life. According to Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, many refugees will need more support in areas such as housing, employment, language training, and mental health/well-being.
Little Voice is proud to support ProjectBE and our newest movement that will support refugee resettlement!
The ProjectBE Movement is supporting refugee settlement efforts through three focus areas:
Employment and professional development
Vulnerable groups: youth, women, the elderly and LGBTQ+ refugees
A portion of each book sale using the coupon code “projectbe” will be donated to ProjectBE’s fundraising efforts!
By using the coupon code “projectbe” at checkout, Little Voice will donate $5 from each book sale to ProjectBE’s crowdfunding campaign. In addition, for those readers located in the National Capital Region, free pick-up is available upon request – please contact Little Voice for more information.
By working with our new friends and neighbours, we have an opportunity to strengthen our diversity and build health and inclusive communities for generations to come!
Donate today and BE the difference in your community!
As the excitement settles and the book signings end, the official launch of The Lighthouse is behind us, and our favourite part of the publishing process is about to begin.
A lot of people often ask us: What is your favourite part of the publishing process? While we love to hold our book in hand for the very first time, the best part of publishing a new book is often hearing from others who get to read it.
The reaction, feedback, and support from our readers is priceless!
This past week, we got to hear from those that pre-ordered our book, and even those that read The Lighthouse in store at our book signings. We met people from all across Ottawa who travelled to meet us because they believed in the message we are trying to share.
It was an incredible feeling knowing that others could relate to the situations found in our book.
Today is not only World Mental Health Day, but the official launch of our new book The Lighthouse.
When we set out to create our newest book, we thought long and hard about not only the months of work ahead, but the day in which we hoped to release it to the world. It was October 2016, and Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo had just come back from attending One Young World. After nearly two years of being asked when the next Little Voice Book would be published, Amanda finally had her answer.
At One Young World, Amanda made a pledge to herself, a pledge to create a book that would support the conversation around mental health. It was not only a pledge to herself, but also a pledge to her business partner Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor. For many months, the two had discussed creating a new book. While the drive to do so was there, the Little Voice team was just bouncing back from an emotional whirlwind that required them both to focus on their own mental health. These personal journeys in many ways equipped them with the empathy and creativity needed to create The Lighthouse. And so, they channelled their inner pain, their outward struggle, and the drive to make a difference in their community to produce the very book you can now hold in your hands today.
Today is the last day to preorder your copy of The Lighthouse and the first day I get to hold our books in hand!
It always amazes me how after a year of hard work and preparation, this moment of holding our book for the very first time can sum it all up. It’s the moment where our little voices go: we did it!
Behind the scenes, we have been working day and night to bring this book to life. We’ve reached out to mental health organizations and advocates to ensure our message was sustainable; we’ve spent hours planning our marketing efforts and writing articles to create awareness; we’ve even opened up about our challenges with mental health to remind you that we all have experienced moments like the ones depicted in our book, or at least know someone who has. And we’re still continuing to try and do so much more.
A lot of people wonder why we do it. Samantha and I, as many of you know, both work full-time and juggle Little Voice Books at the side of our desks. We don’t profit from our efforts, and we give back almost all the proceeds from our books to our community. It raises a lot of eyebrows when we tell people how much work we put into this social enterprise and how much of our proceeds we give to others instead of ourselves.
For Samantha and I, it’s not about the extra dollar in our pocket; it’s about using the talents we’ve been given to make a difference. It’s about raising awareness for causes and initiatives, and conversations that may sometimes be challenging to discuss. It’s about reminding the six year old that they can become anything they want to be so long as they believe in themselves. Or even the 24 year old who is struggling to find their path. It’s about seeing our donations make a difference in our communities and across Canada, seeing how your support has enabled us to do much more than publish a children’s book, but also fund a program or service that will go a long way in making a difference in many more lives.
There are truly some things in the world that money can’t buy, and the feeling of all of the above is something that is worth far more than any dollar could provide. It’s a lasting legacy of good, of kindness, of hope and inspiration. It’s something we need a lot more of in the world right now and if our tiny books can achieve that, then to us, it is totally worth it.
You can still preorder your book by visiting http://www.littlevoicebooks.com. Orders will be shipped on October 10, 2017. Following our official launch on World Mental Health Day, books will be available online and at a number of local Ottawa Chapters as of the October 14th weekend.
As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), we wanted to continue to answer the Campaign’s call to action to share our stories in support of mental health!
On today’s blog, Little Voice’s illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor opens up and shares her own personal story:
I have always been a sensitive and anxious kid. From time to time, life would challenge me and this truth would be easily apparent. From public speaking, going to a new school, or even dealing with a death in the family, I often struggled silently to cope with my emotions. This struggle eventually transformed into a difficult journey with my own body image and food.