Five days for reflection
Business students campaign serves to raise awareness
Author: Jae Hur
Charitable generosity is a complex concept. Whenever one asks another for money, there will naturally be questions about the procedural transparency, legitimacy of the cause and often, methods practiced to motivate giving. These inquiries anchor not only the credibility of charitable platforms within our society, but also, our inherent human drive for generosity.
People asked these questions during the “Five Days for the Homeless” Campaign run by the Hill Business Students’ Society. Upon volunteering for this campaign and researching Carmichael Outreach, the organization that the Business Students Society is raising money for, I believe that this campaign exerted a worthy effort for a worthy cause.
Ensuring credibility for this campaign is Carmichael Outreach’s communal effectiveness and significance. Situated in north central Regina, Carmichael served 53,689 free lunches last year, according to their running blog. Additionally, they ran a free clothing boutique, housed a needle exchange program in partnership with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, and provided a Housing Support Program in residential advocacy and support. These sustainable programs helped reduce crucial marginal expenditures while enforcing safety for its low-income clients, providing many with a small window of opportunity for escape from homelessness.
Further stabilizing the credibility of Carmichael is its employees. Such is the case for George Palmer, who began Carmichael Outreach and ran the organization for 20 years in a wheelchair. Upon financial hardship, Palmer rejected paycheques to keep Carmichael’s doors open. Palmer died this January at the age of 82, but his philosophy remains within the employees and volunteers of Carmichael. Interestingly, several volunteers and staff are former clients of Carmichael. They are contextually and culturally aware of the hardships that linger within homelessness, poverty and discrimination prevalent in their communities.
With a proper platform established for effective giving, the campaign enabled school spirit threaded with generosity. Spearheaded by the brave students that posted outside for five days, the campaign organizers planned many events in and out of the University, volunteers gave up time to collect money, random students and staff brought coffee or food to the students outside and countless people gave up their spare change. The immense sense of synergy and spirit among students, coupled with sympathy and generosity, was definitely a positive movement.
Some would argue that posing homeless is backwards when attempting to make progress in solving the issue. I believe that this narrative misses the true essence of this campaign. Homelessness is a complex and frustrating epidemic. Buried within the social stigmas, violent cold of Regina, hunger, hygiene and fatigue, it is impossible for the homeless to gain footing. I am often blinded to these realities of homelessness and jump to stereotypes. Through the images of the relatable and brave peers sleeping outside, sympathy and empathy is raised on a more personal level, while enabling conversations about the true realities of homelessness. I believe those two things can potentially mitigate the stigmas we carry about homelessness, one of the central purposes to this campaign. When one combines this notion with a $31,000 donation to a proactive organization with sustainable services while fostering a sense of community, inclusion and school spirit, it is safe to conclude that this campaign was a potent initiative.