Helping Hampers: Call for Volunteers

Helping Hampers is a mentorship and social justice opportunity unlike any other. It pairs young adults with local high school and business leaders to fundraise for families in need.

This Fall 2015, we’re looking for passionate and enthusiastic young volunteers to take part in this campaign.

Project Manager

Are you ultra-organized? Do you have a knack for multitasking? Perhaps you’re hungry for the chance to lead a project from start to finish.

Become a Project Manager, and you’ll get to design and implement a multi-week fundraising campaign. You’ll engage students, staff, and their communities to donate household goods to Helping Hampers.

Apply here.

Deadline: September 25, 2015 at noon

Program Manager

You know managing people is no small task. You’ve got the finesse and motivational spark to lead a team, and the past experience to back it.

If this sounds like you, consider becoming a Program Manager. You’ll get to mentor Project Managers, and guide them as they carry out their fundraising campaigns. Program Managers keep Project Managers accountable for completing tasks and assist them with any issues they encounter.

Contact our HR External Coordinator, Meagan O’Shea, to apply.

Deadline: September 25, 2015 at noon

 

 

Runners Dive into Summer at Sprint n’ Splash 2015

Sprint n' Splash Numbers Small

GEOMEER’s fourth annual race event–and first ever water run–was a splash! Our fantastic volunteers gathered at the Aspen Gardens Community League Hall early in the morning to fill water balloons and ready the race course.

By 10:15, runners in our first race were on their way! Seventy-three enthusiastic participants registered for our 5K Water Fight Challenge, where they dove into fun team competitions like Water Dodgeballoon. Some mischievous runners even soaked our race marshals along the way.

At 10:30, the second wave of two hundred people set off on our 5K Family Fun Run. When all the runners made it to the finish line, there were tons of celebrations awaiting them, including a barbecue, bouncy castles, slip and slides, performers, yoga sessions, and much more!

We’d like to extend a huge thank-you all of our participants and volunteers. Together we raised over $4,000! These proceeds go towards GEOMEER’s charitable campaigns, such as Helping Hampers and Suit Up, and provide significant support to families in the local community. We truly got this scorching summer off to a thrilling start.

A special shout-out to all of our amazing sponsors:

 

 

10 Things You Can Do for Your Community This Summer

GEOMEER believes in the importance of nurturing our communities by creating connections and working together. Sometimes being active in your community requires more effort in the summer. School-sponsored activities die down, and lots of extracurriculars like sports teams and choirs are on a break. Life is busy, even in the summer, but here are some easy, summery ways to help out in your community during the next few sunny weeks!

1. Save the Bees!

Most of you have probably been hearing about the crisis our bees are facing all over the world. Bee colonies are collapsing at an alarming rate: so quickly that scientists are worried about bees disappearing completely within a few years. Things like the destruction of bees’ habitats, increasing use of pesticides, and increasing monocultural practices are contributing to the bees’ decline. Bees are important not only because they produce honey, but also because they are key pollinators of the crops we grow: here is a list of foods we will lose without bees. Helping save bees is helping not only your local community, but also our global community and entire planet!

You can get involved by:

-eating lots of honey, especially local honey!

-even considering becoming a beekeeper. It’s pretty easy!

-planting bee-friendly flowers and plants like lavender, thyme, cilantro, borage, sage, fennel, hollyhock, crocus, buttercups, snowdrops, geraniums, asters, calendula, sweet asylum, poppies, zinnias, sunflowers, and heliotrope.

-letting “weeds” like clover and wildflowers grow on your lawn. Bees love them!

-putting out a small dish of water for the bees. If you put little stones in it for them to crawl on, they’ll love it even more!

bee

2. Go to a Festival! 

Edmonton’s festivals are part of what makes our city vibrant and thrumming with culture. There are festivals for everyone: from the thrills of K-Days, to the cultural kaleidoscope of Heritage Days, to the decadent dishes at Taste of Edmonton! Check out a full list here, and support the festive, ever-changing Edmonton spirit!

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3. Pick Up After Litterbugs!

This one sounds a lot less exciting, but we promise it can be fun! Get a bunch of your friends to come on a nature walk in your neighbourhood or in our river valley one summer afternoon, and pick up garbage as you wander. Bring music, snacks, and organize a reward after you’re done–an evening movie party or barbecue in your backyard! You’ll be helping beautify your community while also giving our planet a break.

 

4. Yard Sale! 

It’s relatively easy to set up a low-key yard sale! Get a bunch of your friends to donate anything from old clothes, to books, to handmade arts and crafts. Make signs so people know where to find you. Then, you get to hang out with your friends all day, and afterwards you can donate the proceeds to a local non-profit, charity, or initiative you’re passionate about.

 

5. Help Animals!

You can help out animals in tons of different ways:

-adopting an animal from a shelter.

-volunteering with animal shelters to hang out with dogs and cats who need attention and affection.

-through the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s Adopt-An-Animal program.

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6. Pledge to Vote!

There’s a federal election coming up in the fall of 2015 that promises to be a big deal. In the last federal election, nearly two out of every three young people did not vote. Be a part of a huge change in our community and our country by pledging to vote, and badgering your friends to pledge as well! (Note: This link is oriented specifically at youth, but everyone can raise awareness and pledge to vote!)

 

7. Craft Time!

Do you sometimes miss the simple markers-and-glue times of kindergarten art projects? Then this idea is for you! Make cards or cheery posters with your friends or by yourself, and mail them out to children’s hospitals or senior’s homes.

 

8. Donate Blood!

If crafts aren’t your thing but you’re not squeamish about needles, consider donating blood with Canadian Blood Services at the U of A Health Sciences. It’s easy, pretty quick, and at the end you’ll get free food and juice! Giving blood requires relatively little energy on your part, and helps people who desperately need it.

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9. Volunteer!

There are myriads of volunteer opportunities all over Edmonton. You can volunteer with the City, with the Stollery Children’s Hospital, with Canadian Blood Services, at festivals, and at many other places. Here’s a useful search engine that can help you find tons of volunteer opportunities where you can share your energy and talents. Also remember that you can always volunteer right here, with GEOMEER! Contact Geoff Casey for general information about our volunteer positions. From Creative Services Director, to Special Event Photographer, there are plenty of ways to get involved.

 

10. Give Your Positive Energy! 

There are tons of smaller, low-time-commitment things you can do every day to help your community. You can make sure you and your friends are driving responsibly, supporting local businesses, and showing up to community events. Use your creativity and energy to sustain and energize community connection and life. The summer is bursting with opportunities to give to your community, whether it’s by volunteering your time, by building connections with your neighbours and peers, or by just showing up to a park and giving your positive energy to everyone out and about in the sun. Just be sure to wear sunscreen. Have a great summer!

rivervalley-in-summer

P.S. Check out our Facebook & Twitter for more summer updates!

GEOMEER Is Hiring And Recruiting!

GEOMEER is currently recruiting! If you would like to apply for any of the positions below, or would like more information about the positions, please contact GEOMEER’s Human Resources Coordinator Mariam Elamy (melamy@geomeer.ca).

Volunteer Positions

  • Social Media Lead: The Social Media Lead will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of GEOMEER’s public social media output including that of Linked-in, Twitter and Facebook. This person will be the account manager of the current GEOMEER social media accounts, and be responsible for creating, and administering the Social Media Project Plan. For more information, including required qualifications and time commitment, please download the full position description here.

GEOMEER Wins Silver at 2014 Duncan Craig LLP Laurel Awards

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This September, GEOMEER was presented with the honour of a Silver Award at the 2014 Duncan Craig LLP Laurel Awards. With over 100 years of continuous practice in Edmonton, Duncan Craig LLP holds the annual Laurel Awards to celebrate the law firm’s ongoing commitment to community service. These awards pay tribute to not-for-profit organizations that further their objectives through exceptional creativity and innovation.

The Silver Award was presented to GEOMEER in recognition of its unique formula of decreasing local poverty while also empowering youth to connect to their community through volunteer work. GEOMEER would like to thank its talented
executive team and all the volunteers who have worked with us over the years. The amazing people who have dedicated their time and passion to our initiatives have helped shape GEOMEER into the organization that it is today. We look forward to the continued growth of all of our projects and hope to empower and uplift individuals, families, and communities for years to come.

Charitably Chasing Summer

TroyCharitableChase2014GEOMEER’s third annual Charitable Chase kicked off with bright spirits and sunny skies. With almost 300 participants and 60 volunteers, runners soaked in the beautiful weather and scenic route as friends and family cheered them on. After the race, participants enjoyed great food, music, and activities, including bouncy castles, face painting, and tug-of-war.

But for race participants like Troy Neilson, GEOMEER’s Charitable Chase is so much more than a fun kick-off to the summer with family and friends. It’s also an opportunity to make a tangible difference in his community.

“In my opinion, the largest impact that this run has is the hope it provides for families that are struggling financially,” says Troy. “With the run helping GEOMEER raise awareness of families in dire need, there is hope that the community will take notice of local poverty. These families can find some hope in knowing that the community is there to help.”

For young people like Troy, GEOMEER is that connection to the sometimes-faceless issue of poverty. Through initiatives like the Charitable Chase, youth can take part in the fundraising effort and become engaged in the conversation about income inequality. GEOMEER’s work in our city is proof of our young generation’s passion for community activism and positive change.

In total, this year’s Charitable Chase raised almost $4,000, which will go towards GEOMEER’s Suit Up! initiative. Taking place every year in late August, Suit Up! gives families in need the chance to purchase their own back-to-school clothing at a local Old Navy store. This project not only helps to alleviate families’ “back-to-school” stress, but it also allows them to pick their own clothes and get exactly what they need. If you would like to support our event, please donate online through our Donate Now tab. Your funds will ensure that young students can go back to school with newfound confidence.

Why Does Community Matter?

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Life moves fast when your nose is in your phone…when your boss schedules yet another dinner meeting…when your work uproots you to an entirely new city. It’s easy to feel detached in our society and to retreat behind a television screen rather than reach out to our neighbours. Despite all the gains of modern technology, we may have inadvertently engineered the tools for isolation and loneliness. This sense of detachment from others creates a breakdown in our communities that has very tangible consequences—namely increased violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and poverty.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we actively foster a sense of community within our city. Interacting with others who share our interests promotes camaraderie and offers us a secure support system to lean on in difficult times. This helps us build critical skills, self-confidence, and a sense of identity. In fact, participating in cultural activities is proven to help people and communities overcome poverty and social exclusion.

For the past 5 years, the GEOMEER Charitable Society has empowered students to both connect with families in their community and work towards eliminating poverty. Through campaigns such as Helping Hampers and Suit Up!, GEOMEER has demonstrated that youth have the power to be the leaders of today. Over 40,000 students from all over Alberta have actively led these initiatives, exposing them to the reality of poverty and building strong communities in the process.

Returning for its third year, the GEOMEER Charitable Chase is a family-oriented event that contributes to GEOMEER’s mission of strengthening the community. Run or walk, 10K or 5K, individuals or families—people of all ages and abilities are encouraged to take part. Come enjoy a day full of delicious food, Zumba lessons, balloon animals, bouncy castles, face painting, and more! Participants can register for the race at the following link: http://www.events.runningroom.com/site/?raceId=10365 We hope to see you at the starting line on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Aspen Gardens Community League Hall.

Sources:
http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/publications/carelink/tipsheets/community.pdf
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/social_inclusion/docs/studyculture_leaflet_en.pdf

Connecting People to Their Local Community

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GEOMEER is ringing in the New Year by celebrating our fifth successful Helping Hampers campaign! When this project first started as an attempt to engage students and community in a local, meaningful project, we would have never guessed that we would be where we are today.

Thanks to countless students, staff and volunteers we have been able to deliver long-term aid to families in Edmonton to give them a chance to break out of poverty. This year we raised $228,000 by creating 114 hampers that were delivered to families in communities near you.

Many of the families that we work with are single-parent families that support one or more children. “Lone parents’ median income in 2011 was $47,200 less than the median income for two parent families in 2011” in Edmonton. On top of this, “women in Edmonton working full-time earn on average just 75.1% of what their male counterpart do.” It is no wonder that many single parent families do not have the funds to sustain good health and shelter for their family in our seemingly economically advanced society.

Projects such as our Helping Hampers initiative call upon citizens to recognize the need in our own communities and take action. We hope that by partnering schools with a family in their local area that people will feel a connection with the family, and will be impassioned to become active members of fighting poverty in our city. Together we can make Edmonton a strong, united, and connected city.

Source: Edmonton Poverty Fact Sheet (http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/EdmontonPovertyFactSheet.pdf)

A Hopeful Solution to an Unsettling Truth

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The United Nations has reported that more women than men live in absolute poverty. To some, this may be a surprise; unfortunately, it is a reality. The Canadian Women’s Foundation notes that women are more likely to spend more time doing unpaid work (4.2 hours compared to 2.2 hours for men), leaving them less time for paid work. There is also a gender wage gap that results in women earning only 71 cent for every dollar earned by males. While it may not seem like much at first glance, when one considers the hourly wage, the result is a huge disparity when comparing earnings on a yearly basis.

Many women face familial responsibilities and a lower wage which results in their family living in poverty. The effects of poverty on their children’s lives are devastating and often poverty becomes a vicious cycle. The Helping Hampers campaign is designed to interrupt and help break that cycle of poverty. Partnering with schools, community groups and businesses, GEOMEER provides hampers to families of food, toiletries, cleaning products, etc. that last for several months. The hampers are worth $2,000 and their purpose is to allow families some “breathing room” so they can use their resources for other necessities. Many of the families we support have a single parent as the wage earner and even those with two parents often cannot earn enough to pull themselves out of poverty.

Our hampers provide relief for a period of time that is long enough to make a true difference in families’ lives. We believe that the project works because it is done at the local level – schools and groups are paired with families in their communities.

If you want to support GEOMEER’s efforts to make a lasting difference in the lives of families across Edmonton, Calgary, and rural Alberta please find your way to the Donate Now tab on our website.

We hope that this blog challenges you to think about one of the many diverse factors that affects families living in poverty. Together let’s make a change in our communities.

Because community matters,

GEOMEER

http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/briefing/poverty/poverty.pdf

http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-poverty

Maintaining the Cycle of Poverty

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I am sure that many people have seen this proposed budget that McDonald’s and Visa put together to prove that it was possible to live on minimum wage. However, it turns out that it is almost impossible to live on a minimum wage. Robyn Pennachia reported that the budget shown is from “Illinois where minimum wage is $8.25” and it is based on someone who is working for 62 hours a week “almost a whole other full time job.” You may, or may not, be surprised that of most families living in poverty, the parents or guardians are working at least one full time job. The minimum wage in Alberta sits at $9.95 for employees who do not serve liquor as part of their regular job (Alberta Human Resources 2013). Though it is higher than Illinois it remains very low and acts as a barrier to breaking out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

The proposed budget “assumes the worker is working two jobs and fails to note the charges for child care, clothing, groceries and gas.” (Laura 2013) And now imagine trying to get around Edmonton in the winter without a vehicle; it would be quite difficult. Even if a person wants to use public transit, an Edmonton Transit adult monthly pass is $89, a post secondary student pass is $81, and a youth monthly pass is $65.55. A family of four people with 2 school-aged children would be spending $309 on bus passes alone! On top of this they need to heat their home in increasingly colder weather, buy clothes (especially warm coats, boots, mitts, etc.) and purchase groceries. The cost of a nutritious food basket (the quantity of approximately 60 foods that represents a nutritious diet) for a family of four in metro Edmonton is $210 per week (Edmonton Vital Signs 2013). That adds up to $840 per month – more than the monthly spending allotted from this budget.

No wonder families living in poverty have such a hard time acquiring nutritious food, getting from place to place and surmounting the challenges of every day life. Realizing that this huge barrier, a low minimum wage, is detrimental to the well-being of children, it is time to take action. Advocating for a higher minimum wage may seem an insurmountable task but do not despair. Taking any action whether donating good, healthy food to the Food Bank or a GEOMEER Helping Hamper or finding organizations that you can volunteer with that help to diminish the demands on the bank accounts of families living in poverty will help.

GEOMEER’s Helping Hampers campaign is meant to cover the expenses associated with food, clothes and other necessities during a long-term period. Through Helping Hampers, we know that we can give families hope that there is a way out while connecting high school students with their communities. To top it off, students, staff and families of the students learn how much poverty exists within our own city, and trust me, it is much higher than most think.

We are coming up on Thanksgiving right away and I challenge every reader to do at least one thing this month, and every month of the year, that gives another person reason to give thanks for your efforts. It could be helping someone who looks like they have their hands too full, volunteering with an organization or even donating to an organization that is working for the betterment of others.
From us at GEOMEER we hope that you have a great beginning to your fall season and we thank you for all of your support in making us what we are today.

Sources:

Pennacchia, Robyn. “McDonald’s suggested budget for employees shows just how impossible it is to get by on minimum wage.” Death and Taxes Mag. July 2013

Shin, Laura. “Why McDonald’s Employee Budget Has Everyone Up In Arms.” Forbes Online. July 2013

Edmonton Community Foundation. Edmonton Vital Signs Food Report 2013. Print.

Edmonton Transit Fares: Edmonton Transit Online