Local Heroes Inside Story: Gratitude Is An Action

At Kijiji, we’re always amazed when we hear inspiring stories about Local Heroes who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in order help others in their community. In this week’s Local Heroes Inside Story, we head to Calgary, where one extraordinary Kijiji user has dedicated the past three years to finding a cure for cancer.

In October 2007, Celeste Goodhope underwent a mammography to determine whether a lump found in her breast was cancerous. Weeks later as she went in for a follow up, she ran into a friend who revealed that she had just been diagnosed with cervical cancer. While Celeste’s lump turned out to be benign, the impact of that day became an inspiration for her to help others affected, by raising funds for cancer research.

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Celeste began charity bike rides to further her fundraising in early 2011; the focus of her LH story – Gratitude is an Action. While friends and family supported her yearly rides from their own pocket, Celeste felt that there was a bigger opportunity to help raise money through starting bottle drives in which members of the Calgary community would donate their used beer and wine bottle deposits to a good cause.

Starting with the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers ride and The Ride to Conquer Cancer; Celeste has been able to raise more than $13, 000 over the past three years through her  bottle drives. Using Kijiji to advertise her cause, Celeste drives across Calgary to collect bottles from those who have responded and returns them to her local depot.

While the community around Celeste enables her to make such a tremendous contribution to cancer research, it’s her ongoing supporters – including those current battling the disease – which have had the most profound impact on her, allowing her to strive harder year after year.

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As Celeste continues to train towards her 2014 ride next month (for which she has already raised an estimated $5600 through Kijiji bottle drives alone), we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate her, and salute her as a true Local Hero in the community. Well done Celeste!

Calgary! SUPPORT HER JOURNEY HERE.

Has someone like Celeste gone out of their way for a special cause in your community? Submit their Local Hero story today!

How New Landlords can Protect Themselves from Problem Tenants

Everyone’s heard the horror stories about bad tenants first hand or through the grapevine, they can cause damage, cost money and sour your experience as a landlord. Here are a few pointers on how to avoid turning these nefarious tales of tainted tenants into reality.

Better safe than sorry: Rental Application Forms – This is the first and most important step in finding a great tenant because it tells you about their rental history, lifestyle, employment, friend and family references and other details that may help characterize the potential renter. Always check the facts and if you don’t get the right information, request more or move on. If information on the application sounds unlikely or fishy, it probably is so don’t reel this one in.

Protecting your interests: Move-In Inspection Report & Tenancy Agreement

A move in report is an essential step to protecting your interests, it’s even required in some provinces prior to move-in. This report should be created during a walkthrough with the tenant prior to move in, details are important to note because this will be the basis for resolving any disputes that arise from damage caused by the tenant. Similarly, a tenancy agreement sets the tone for the relationship between the tenant and landlord. There are many free online agreement templates but to best protect your interests it’s prudent to consult your local landlords organization, they often have great resources available.

Do your research: Short term gains can equal long term pains

Due diligence is your best friend. Before jumping into landlord/tenant relationships learn as much as you can. This is a job, the dwelling is your asset and rental income is a part of your future. You wouldn’t gamble with any of these in your day to day life so don’t roll the dice on this one; hedge your bets and protect your interests.

For more resources in Ontario and across Canada this is a great place to start!

Renting in a Landlord’s Market: Scoring a Great Apartment when Vacancies are Down

Low vacancy rates are great news if you are a landlord, but significantly less so if you find yourself searching for a new apartment. Finding a good apartment at a reasonable price is significantly more difficult when rental units have a low vacancy rate. Not only will the prices for accommodation be higher, but the competition between renters to land a choice apartment can get fierce. What do you need to do to land a great pad when vacancy rates are low?

Finding a Great Apartment When Vacancy Rates are Low

Be realistic. If you are moving out of your parents’ house, moving into a new city, or switching to a more central or expensive neighborhood, you may be in for a shock at the size of apartment your budget gets you, or the sticker price to live somewhere up to your current standard. Spend some time browsing apartments similar to what is within your budget on Kijiji before going to a showing so you have a good idea of what the market is like before you start going for showings – that way, you can identify a good deal when you come across one.

Separate wants from needs. Before seeing any apartments, figure out what you consider absolute must haves, and what you can live without. Is central air conditioning really a must have if you see a great unit that has good airflow? Do you need in unit laundry if there is a Laundromat in the building? Knowing what you will and will not compromise on before your search will help you make decisions on a tighter timeline.

Figure out the prices of all the things you think you need. Maybe you feel you need access to an underground parking spot, but have you looked into what the cost is for street parking in your city? How does the premium of having a reserved spot compare to a monthly parking pass in the area of the building? If parking is easy to come by in the blocks near your apartment, is it really worth shelling out the difference?

Be prepared to act. If you see a great place, assume landlords are telling the truth when they say they have a lot of interest. If you want to move in, be prepared to negotiate and lock down the agreement on the spot. Research what is standard in your province for documents required to sign a lease, and bring it with you to every showing. This may include a copy of your credit report, a letter of employment, bank statements or pay stubs, and the contact information of your current or past landlords. A reference letter from a prior landlord stating that you were a good tenant and paid on time may help you be more competitive as well.

Familiarize yourself with signs of rental fraud and local laws. Scams become more common when the competition for apartments is tight, because fraudsters know people are under pressure to lock down a good deal. Similarly, unscrupulous landlords may demand things that they have no right to, such as cash deposits before any binding agreement is signed. Be wary of any requests for cash or other similarly untraceable transactions. Stick to cheques, credit cards, certified cheques, and other traceable forms of payment, and never send money online for an apartment that you haven’t seen.

Local Heroes Inside Story: Rescued Cats And Kittens Finding New Homes

At Kijiji, we are always inspired when we’re able to help a local non-profit reach their goals using our services. In this week’s Local Heroes Inside Story, we salute the volunteers at Urban Cat Relief (UCR) who work tirelessly to find homes for lost and rescued cats in the Greater Toronto Area.

In her LH submission, Kijiji Helps Rescued Cats and Kittens, Urban Cat Relief volunteer Heather Thomas explains how UCR relies on their Kijiji postings to advertise their feline friends for adoption. With an estimated 1000 adoptions over the past four years, Heather estimates that 95 per cent of cat and kitten adoptions come through the ads they place on Kijiji.

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Founded in 2009, UCR was created through the merger of two local cat rescues, becoming a not-for-profit charitable foundation with the goal of improving the lives of homeless cats. While rescuing and fostering cats for adoption is a big part of what the volunteers of UCR do each day, they also assist in caring for wild cat populations by providing food, as well as neuter/spay and veterinary services. The volunteers of UCR also supply additional resources for the public through local outreach and materials on their website, including educational information on how to safely address strays in your community.

As a proud partner of the Ontario SPCA and animals lovers across the country, we support and salute the Local Hero volunteers of Urban Cat Relief and the outstanding work they do each day.

Has a local charity like Urban Cat Relief made an impact in your community? Submit your own Local Hero story today!

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Everyone wants to get away during the summer, but having wee ones in tow can make it significantly harder. What are some strategies to make the process of getting from point A to B more enjoyable when bringing toddlers along for the ride?

How to Travel with Toddlers

During Travel on a Plane: airports and airplanes can bring out bad behavior even in mature adults. For a toddler, it is even more confusing and overwhelming. Build anticipation beforehand by explaining air travel, pointing out planes, or giving them an airplane toy. Once in the airport, give them their own child sized suitcase to pull around to help get rid of some excess energy, and calmly explain in detail what is occurring during security checks. Make sure you have both familiar toys and activities and a new toy to distract them once on the plane. During takeoff and landing, explain the process to help them understand the strange new experience, which may reduce the chance of acting out, and remember to bring something to help with the ear pressure, like a lollipop or a sippy cup. If possible, book only nonstop flights, and try to time it so that their usual nap time occurs while in the sky. If you do have a stop over, use the opportunity to get them to run around as much as possible. If you aren’t bringing a car seat with you, find a car service in advance that will pick you up and drop you off that includes a car seat.

Taking a long Car Trip: plan games, stories, and activities in advance. If only one child is present, consider having an adult sit in the back with them if possible to distract them for at least part of the trip. Plan to make rest stops frequently, and if possible, time them to be in fun places, like a park or green space to run around in. Bring some outdoor toys to amuse them at rest stops, too – maybe a ball, skipping rope, or a frisbee. If you have an iPad or tablet, load it with plenty of kid-friendly apps beforehand that don’t require an internet connection to keep them occupied for longer drive times.

Sleeping Overnight in an Unfamiliar Environment: unfamiliar locations, especially after a long trip can be trying. If planning to stay with family or friends unfamiliar to your child, show them pictures and tell some stories about these individuals beforehand to get them used to the idea. If staying in a hotel, show them pictures of inside the rooms so that it will seem more familiar upon arrival. Try sticking to your usual routine for bedtime as much as possible, as will likely help ease the process (as well as give you more time for some grown up socializing).

What do you do to help ease the stress of travel on young kids? Let us know in the comments!

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