Metro looks at five people doing tremendous work within our community.
When asked why he started his charity, the Canadian Flowers for Food Society, Marrett Green doesn’t hesitate: “Because I could.”
Now in its fourth year, the CFFS collects flowers from various donors and provides them to the homeless, recovering addicts and otherwise marginalized populations to sell and generate immediate income for food, toiletries and other necessities.
“When you notice somebody drowning and you have a life-preserver you can throw at them, you throw it,” said Green.
Donors such as Capers Whole Foods Market and Make Scents Flower Distributors set aside flora discards — flowers that are perhaps too short or lacking a few petals — for volunteers to pick up and deliver to various community centres. From there, clients — between 50 and 100 to date — pick them up and sell them.
In four years, TJ, the CFFS’s first client, went from living in a cardboard box to a tent, to an SRO and finally low-income housing at Granville Residence, where he now proudly invites Green to come see his television and microwave.
While CFFS has built many community links by focusing on a common goal, it still relies heavily on volunteers to keep the gears turning.
“We have the infrastructure in place,” said Green. “The only thing that’s missing, really, are drivers for two days and deliverers for the flowers.”
As the founder of recycling depot United We Can, former binner Ken Lyotier created work for some of Vancouver’s “hardest to hire” while promoting recycling and environmentalism. While Lyotier retired last year, he remains actively involved in the organization, said new executive director Brian Dodd.
As the founding artistic director of the Public Dreams Society, Paula Jardine has spearheaded many community-based performances and celebrations. Perhaps most notable are the Parade of the Lost Souls and Illuminares Evening Lantern Procession, which each bring together thousands of artists, volunteers and spectators in East Vancouver every year.
Since becoming an outreach worker for the Union Gospel Mission seven years ago, former drug user Mike Jobin has gotten countless people off the streets with his empathetic but no-nonsense attitude. “I can’t count how many people say they got into recovery or wherever they are because of Mikey,” said Keela Keeping of the UGM.
While volunteering at a drop-in centre for sex-trade workers years ago, Caroline MacGillivray offered to style a client’s hair and do her nails. Seeing how happy it made the client spawned the idea for Beauty Night, which has given more than 8,000 makeovers to disadvantaged women in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto since she founded it in 2001.