Sunday 11 December 2016

Making 150 Count: The Happiness Gift

We are making 150 count this holiday season! RBC reached out to us to participate in their 150th year anniversary. They gave us among many other young Canadians $150 to create a positive impact in our communities. What we did was then up to us...

We accepted the challenge even though we had no specific idea on what we will do. We started brainstorming certain social dilemmas that exist within our community. We are well aware that no city is perfect but in order for us to be able to create a positive impact we need to tap into the social problems we face.

We wanted to tackle many problems arising around the world, but we felt a good start would be looking into our own community. And Bam! We realized a problem we see on a daily basis is the homelessness in Canada.

This is how we made 150 Count:

Homelessness is a continually rising issue, and it has many misconceptions assigned to it. Canadian winters are harsh and there aren't enough shelters to take everyone in. So, we decide to put together care packages with necessities such as scarves, hats, snacks, socks and more.

Putting together those care packages is not going to solve the issue but hopefully we can create awareness and give a little bit of happiness. We encourage you to talk to homeless individuals that you pass by everyday. If it's available to you, really ask them what they need and see if it's something you can offer. 

Mental illness was found to be an issue when we went to give these care packages. Mental health disorders are highly prevalent in the chronic homeless. Based on studies, it's calculated that 35%-50% of Canada’s chronic homeless suffer from schizophrenia, manic depression, or bi-polar disorder, affecting 38%-48% of the chronically homeless. (Charity Intelligence Canada)

Here is what we've included in the care kit:

- Thick long socks
- Hats
- Scarves
- Granola bars for energy
- Hand lotion
- Kisses chocolate for love and a holiday cheer
- Pocket tissues
- Juice
- Biscuits
- Canned food items
- A healthy food sandwich made with love by our friend. Thank you, Kim!

Canadian Homelessness Statistics:

Number of people living on the streets: 447 (2013)
Number of people staying in city-administered shelters: 3,970 (2013)
Total homeless population: 5,219 (2013)

Number of public & subsidized housing units: 94,520 (2013)
Number of clients on housing waiting list: 77,109 (2014)
Apartment Vacancy Rate: 1.6% (2015)
Average cost of rent for 1 bedroom apartment in Toronto: 1,110/ month (2015)


If you want to learn more about RBC's 150th Anniversary celebration and about 150 Count, visit their website here.

The #Make150Count Adventure

We headed out to Toronto's Front street with a bunch of purple and green bags to gift. We had such an eye-opening experience talking to different individuals and connecting with the homeless population.

Thank you Kim and Khaled for all the help in packing and giving out the bags. We were ready to hit the streets...

The first person we see from afar was Paul. Sitting on his mattress, he was communicating with the birds and feeding them. How we loved this man's soul! He was so full of energy and we had such a positive interaction with him. He told us how the birds visit him all the time and that there's this one little bird who gets picked on by the other birds so he usually tries to protect him from the rest. If you see Paul in the streets, don't shy away, talk to him. He will make you smile. 

Meet Mike, he roams the street of Toronto occasionally and has a great spirit.

We wanted to leave some bags to many others who were sleeping.

Meet Mick, super positive and ready to seize the day.

Some interactions we left undocumented, and a few heart-breaking. 

One very impactful interaction we had was with a great soul who has unfortunately been suffering from Parkinson's for about 12 years. As his sickness is getting worse and he is getting older, being homeless and without any medical help is taking a toll on him. As much as we wish we could've done more, all we could really do at that moment was to try to fulfill any request he had. But, it didn't feel enough. 

We wish there is a better system in Canada that could step in to really help offer medical attention to those who need it. It's very rough out there, and with a better system in place, easing the suffering of many is not too far-fetched.

If anyone knows of any more ways for us individuals to help tackle these issues on the streets, comment below. You can also tell us some thing you've helped out with recently that can possibly inspire us and others to do the same. 

Wishing you a beautiful winter season, loves! 

Stay gold, 



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