This is my fourth action post for the year. In this post, I’ll be talking about some of the complexities I face in my action, why I believe my action is sustainable, and how it is providing opportunity.
In Ms Stuart’s TEDx talk, we learned about how ‘Everything is complicated’ – nothing is black and white, good or bad. Accordingly, my actions within Project HELLO have their own complexity. Although my intentions with this club are pure, I do profit off my actions. Whether it be through scholarships I qualify for because of the club or admissions to university, I also benefit from Project HELLO as do many of its members. Additionally, although my goal is to help Vancouver’s homeless population and reduce stigma in my own community, it is possible that I do not reach this goal in particular instances. Perhaps the support I offer to those who are homeless is not needed and it is in another way they want or need help. Or, conversely, it could be that stigma is not reduced within the club and their fears and anxiety in relation to the Downtown Eastside are only augmented. So, in sum, my successes and my giving back within Project HELLO are not black and white – they are complex much like Ms Stuart suggested in her talk. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here is the link to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPCWM6YCbjo. I highly recommend watching!
So, my action is complex. However, is it sustainable? Well, I believe it is. Although my leading of this club will be over once I graduate, I am currently in the midst of training my vice president to be president for the following couple years and when she is in grade twelve, she will do the same. Project HELLO will live on even without my presence which is the first reason why this club is sustainable. As for our efforts themselves, each family we reconnect has strengthened a bond for life. Perhaps the food and clothes we also give out will soon run out or deteriorate, but the relationships we have reunited last for much longer. Lastly, the altered perspectives of members about the Downtown Eastsiders is one that lasts for a lifetime. For these three reasons, I believe this club and the actions the members take within in are most definitely sustainable.
Project HELLO is also a great way to provide an opportunity for many people. For those who don’t know, HELLO stands for Helping Everyone Locate Loved Ones; accordingly, our goal as a group is to help others. Nevertheless, it is evident that it is us, the members of the club, who are affected the most. The narrative that homeless people are dangerous and to be avoided is one that I housed in my mind for a long time; however, one story that changed my perspective is about a young woman named Tanya and her mother. I asked Tanya if she would like to send a card to a loved one, and she nodded, feebly. In her card, Tanya wrote two simple lines.
“Mom, it’s getting hard out here. Help.”
After speaking to Tanya and learning a bit more about her story, I made it my mission to locate an address. With a phone number she gave me, I got in contact with her mother, expecting a joyful reaction to the opportunity to reconnect with her daughter. However, the woman declared that she is estranged from Tanya and does not want to contact her, elaborating by saying she recently lost another child and she has does not “need any more drama” in her life. She apologized and expressed that this may seem cruel if you come from a happy home, but this is her reality. Nevertheless, to my surprise, Tanya’s mother contacted me a few days later, asking for the card and her daughter’s address so she can send one back.
From this encounter, I feel accomplished. I feel accomplished knowing that I’ve disconnected the stigma that I once carried, either unknowingly or knowingly, about those who are homeless. I feel accomplished knowing I am providing the opportunity for others in my own community to do the same. This is exactly what Project HELLO is about: exercising your compassion and sympathy to help others while ameliorating yourself.
I have mentioned in a previous post who my expert is for my action process. But, I will mention it again in this post. My expert is Maria Bruneau. Mme Bruneau is a teacher at Dr Charles Best Secondary and also the sponsor teacher for Project HELLO. She has been involved with the club much longer than I have and has helped me greatly with being a leader and being more involved with my community. She continues to provide me with this support throughout my grade twelve year.
That’s all for this post! Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave me any comments below. 🙂