On February 1st I joined hundreds of volunteers canvasing for donations for our Time4Change event. As the day wore on I found myself looking for new things to say to passersby to elicit donations. It was a very cold day at the end of a very cold week so all of the TTC riders were well aware of how it felt being cold temporarily. Some riders walked by and smiled saying sorry they didn’t have change. Others simply walked past without a glance. I needed to improve my message. Yonge/Bloor Station is a multi-level station with plenty of traffic. I have a loud voice. I thought, I can do better. I decided to simply put some statistics out there.
“Over 2,000 kids have no place to call home tonight! You can help to change that!”
When I first said it I surprised myself at the emotional reaction I had to my own words. It obviously had an effect on those within earshot. Multiple people turned and looked. Many dug into pockets and purses to grab some change. My message was a success. I suddenly worried that I was making the truth a slogan and was diminishing its importance by using it as some sort of pitch. My internal conversation led to a decision that the truth is important and for those who do not donate perhaps they can gain some education.
Raising funds is fantastic and the event was a big success. What cannot be measured is the impact that our art installations and message had on the people who we came into contact with. Every volunteer had at least one story of someone asking them about YWS and/or youth homelessness. For most it was multiple interactions. Spreading the message and engaging the amazing people of Toronto is a large part of T4C.
Thank you Toronto for your generosity and your interest. You showed you care.
(Photo credit: Durham College student. Steve Doherty, YWS Executive Director on left and T4C volunteer, actor David Reale on right)