Monday, September 17, 2012

Sara Casselman - Social Justice for Long-Term Solutions

Sara Casselman was noted this year by The Record as being one of Waterloo Region's Top 40 Under 40. She was also awarded a Leading Women, Building Communities award in 2011 and is setting examples across our fair city by educating and supporting women and helping men stand up in protest of violence against women.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sara's LinkedIn profile,

She's the Public Relations & Operations Manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASCWR) and she has a message that while direct service is an essential service in our area, becoming more and more important in the fight against ANY issue if we hope to eradicate it rather than clean up the aftermath, is social justice and advocacy.

Direct service provision is a simple concept. Direct service helps women after a sexual or physical assault. Direct service feeds the homeless on the streets. Direct service helps a person get back up after a mental breakdown.

The disconnect is often that these services offer no other support or strategic planning to go to the source of the problem. Eradicating homelessness isn't possible until we've built out all the possible ways that would lead a person to homelessness in the first place. While direct services are needed in our community, we always need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture...

Why is this _____________ (insert social epidemic here) happening in the first place?

She demonstrated with an illustrated story.

A townsperson saw a child drowning in the water. She ran in to save her. Then another child floated down the river, then another and another. Soon, the river was full of townspeople pulling their drowning children out of the water. 

This is direct service. These townspeople are cleaning up the aftermath of whatever horrible thing is causing their children to fall into the river and drown.

Eventually, someone realized that perhaps they should wade upriver and find out what was causing the children to drown and stop THAT.

And this, my friends, is social justice. This is the people like Sara who are helping with the aftermath but are also forging ahead to find the root cause of the problem.

Sara is a true leader in our community, showing us how to think forward and find true SOLUTIONS to social issues. In this way, she is not only a hero of the Not For Profit world, she's also a business leader and teacher, and we should be thankful that we have community heroes like her, teaching us how to become better global citizens and neighbours.

You can connect with Sara on twitter @SASCWR or find more information on Women's Issues on the SASCWR website.

*This is part 5 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

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