A micro-blogging site is to credit for uniting a group of big-hearted Vancouverites who donated clothing, food and even blood to the needy and put into action a continuing spree of volunteerism.
Janice Laing and Yam de la Pena — friends on Twitter who had never met in person — were messaging in mid-December when the two decided to meet for a drink the following day. Realizing the city was being pummelled by snow, de la Pena decided to switch up the plans.
“I’m going to look through my closet for warm clothes and hand them out,” he said to Laing, who agreed to do the same.
In the hours leading up to the meet-up — which Laing dubbed the Vancouver TweetupHeatup — other tweeters started listening in on the plans and by the next day, there were about a dozen people gathered at the corner of Cambie and Pender streets with bags of clothing and food in hand.
“We started walking and immediately, within feet, a man came up to us and asked what we were doing,” said Laing. “He was obviously cold, so we started outfitting him with some clothing. We’d walk a couple more feet and it’d happen again. It got to the point where we were just asking people (if they needed clothing).”
When the group ran out of clothing, they ducked into an Army & Navy to buy more. At one point, an impromptu snowball fight broke out between the group and a homeless man.
“It was amazing to see the looks on people’s faces,” said Laing. “One man started crying and then I started crying … because he was saying how his life wasn’t always like this.”
Sebastian Albrecht, a local realtor, saw the TweetupHeatup posting but was unable to attend. Still wanting to contribute, he proposed a TweetupBleedup — a call for blood donors — the next day.
“Seeing what they did inspired me to try something along the same vein,” he said.
Despite short notice, an impending snowstorm and Christmas rapidly approaching, a total of five people turned out.
“Considering the conditions, I was pleased with the turnout,” said Albrecht. “I’m hoping to make this a regular event — only every 56 days as that’s the Red Cross limit for giving blood — and hopefully we’ll see more people in the future.
Laing and de la Pena plan on making their tweetups for a cause a regular event as well.
For more information, search Twitter for #tweetupheatup and #tweetupbleedup.
Sector adopts code of volunteer involvement
The volunteer sector has its own version of the Hippocratic Oath when it comes to standards of behaviour. The Canadian Code of Volunteer Involvement outlines three main elements:
• Values. Volunteer involvement benefits the volunteer, the organization and society.
• Guiding principles. Volunteers have both rights and responsibilities.
• Organizational standards. Organizations should consider 12 standards when developing or reviewing volunteer involvement. These range from program administration to recognition.
A downloadable copy of the code can be found at www.volunteer.ca.
— Eva Lam/for Metro Canada