Where to begin… 

It seems like just yesterday, I came across a Kickstarter campaign for a film that shared a message much like my own. This message encourages children, and adults alike, to believe in themselves and their dreams! After watching the trailer for the Dream, Girl film,  I saw myself and the journey I had taken with Little Voice in the stories of the women featured in this film. I saw my struggles, my fears, my determination and that same little voice that once inspired me to write a children’s book, inspire others to do extraordinary things too!

On the morning of June 5th, the Dream Big Dream, Girl Luncheon, I asked myself how I got here. How did watching a trailer to a documentary, produced by two women I didn’t really know, turn into me putting on an event for over 140 women. The short answer: inspiration. The longer answer: when an idea gets in my head, I run with it, and that’s exactly what led me to put on this inspirational luncheon.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this. Would people be interested? Would people attend? Would they be as inspired as I hoped they would?

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After watching the Dream, Girl trailer, one particular quote stuck with me:

There is moment in your life when you know you are destined for something greater. There is a force puling you to create, explore, build and lead. There is no map to guide you, no blueprint to help you navigate, just a tiny voice inside you telling you to dream big!

I remember repeating this quote to myself over and over again, and thinking this was me. This was me over three years ago when I set out to write the Little Voice children’s book, when I aspired to create the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project, and when I realized I wanted to create more than just a book but a movement that would inspire others. I didn’t have a blueprint to help me, a mentor to guide me, or even a clue how to self-publish and manage an entire business from scratch. What I did have was a little voice that motivated to keep going, a drive that wouldn’t give up, and the faith that in the end I would accomplish my goal.

And so, when I decided to bring Dream, Girl to Ottawa, I knew I wanted to expand on the film and make it a day filled with inspiration. I wanted to inspire the 24 year old me all over again, the entrepreneur who was waiting to pursue their passion, the established business owner who maybe thought there was nothing left to dream, and the child whose little voice was the loudest of them all.

With the help of Peggy Taillon, CEO of the Bruyère Foundation and Founder of the Hera Mission of Canada; the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Ottawa Centre MP; Tammy Laverty, CEO and Founder of Laverty Designs Inc.; Victoria Lennox, CEO and Co-Founder of Startup Canada; and Grace Lachance’s closing performance, I was able to accomplish my own dream in putting on an event that would inspire all those in attendance, while giving back to my community.

Each speaker brought something unique to the event. Whether it was personal experience or advice, the messages that followed after Sunday’s luncheon proved that each speaker left a mark on all those in attendance, including myself.

“Thank you Amanda for the inspiring Dream Big lunch, writing a wonderful book & your hard work at Parks Canada! I read Little Voice to my son, he said he’s going to try hard to listen to his little voice.” – The Honourable Catherine McKenna

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“Wonderful afternoon at the Dream, Girl luncheon to inspire women and in support Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. I was honored to be alongside many women who not only are good friends but also inspire me and make a difference in our community. Thank you Amanda for all your hard work and for inviting me as a guest to speak today. Today provided me with a platform to share a story that has a deep meaning to me and my family. Live your dreams, work hard and remember to cherish loved ones and family along the way! ” – Tammy Laverty

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“What a great way to spend Sunday with a great group of women and hear inspirational stories . Great event , great cause.” – Maggie Bazini

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“What a great event! Thank you for reminding us all to dream and listen to that voice that tells us we can!” Michelle Brennan-Mann

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“There was a powerful energy in that room today and I loved the consistent message encouraging women to be cheerleaders for other women. Lifting each other up, and cheering each other on, can only have positive results for the world as a whole.” – Jennifer Bennett

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“What an inspiring Sunday afternoon. In the company of so many great women! Amanda, you have done an amazing job inspiring us.” – Ima Ortega

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“Thank you for such an wonderful afternoon! Even before I met you and Samantha, I was already inspired by what you have both accomplished with Little Voice and today was just another step in your amazing journey!”- Julia Corneau Aiken

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“It was an absolutely awesome day. Thank you to you and your team that put this event together! Lots of inspiration, knowledge and kinship!” Carol-Anne Grenier

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“LOVED the movie! So inspiring! Saw the screening today with my 15 year old daughter – I am sure todays experience will forever be a part of her journey in becoming a strong, confident and independent woman.” – Jana Rothwell

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“Wonderful screening! It was inspirational on so many levels, to everyone in the room!!! Can’t wait to see the results!” – Julie Poirier

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All these messages left me completely speechless.

Sunday left me feeling extremely determined. I became more motivated than ever to make a difference in our community. I always said I didn’t want to lead an ordinary life, and that my goal was to be and do something extraordinary. What I learned on Sunday is that life is made up of many extraordinary moments and the Dream Big Dream, Girl Luncheon was certainly one of them. 

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But Sunday wasn’t just about entrepreneurship; it was also about philanthropy. When I first set out to create Little Voice, I also knew I wanted to create a platform that would help support my community and the important causes and initiatives within it. Little Voice has been fortunate to work with a number of schools, not-for-profits and charities in order to fundraise and give back wherever possible. While our platform strives to support all those we possibly can, there is one person in my life who I couldn’t help but think of when starting the Little Voice movement.

As soon as Little Voice was born, so too was the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project, a project that donates a portion of every book sale to the Alzheimer Society of Canada and supports the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County through fundraising and volunteer initiatives in honour of my grandmother Teresina Bernardo.

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At a young age, Alzheimer’s disease stripped me from a relationship with my grandmother. Living oceans apart, it was nearly impossible to maintain a relationship with someone who could no longer remember your name, nor the words that once made up the sum of her life. While I could not pick up the phone and share with my grandmother the accomplishments I have made since the seven-year-old granddaughter she once knew, I can and will continue to support the Alzheimer’s Society in her name.

Since December 2014, Little Voice has donated close to $5, 000 dollars in support of the Alzheimer’s Society. Sunday was another opportunity for Little Voice to give back and I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting the Dream Big Draw.

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With your help, Little Voice was able to donate $2,000 dollars in support of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfew County!

Already this year, for 2016, Little Voice has been able to donate $3, 875 dollars through your support at the Dream, Girl Luncheon and our fundraising efforts with the Walk for Alzheimers! But as Little Voice suggests, we are just getting started!

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So, what does it mean to dream big?

I suggest you watch the Dream, Girl film and find out what dreaming big means to you!

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