An open letter to All MLA’s, M.P.’s, All Candidates, and Supporters in Edmonton area.
Imagine the budgeting that goes into maintaining a household when you earn upwards of $60,000 per year, have one or two children and a working spouse earning another $30,000 per year. Consider the stress of paying a mortgage, putting food on the table, making car payments, and paying all the other incidentals that come with supporting a middle class to upper-middle class lifestyle. Now add a baby to the equation. This is not just another mouth to feed, but another body to clothe and another bottom to cover. This scenario has its strains.
Now take away the second working spouse. Change the mortgage to rent. Change the annual income to under $10,000 and the annual rent to $6,000 to $10,000. Before we put food on this table, we are seeing that rent alone is eating up the vast majority of this single parent’s income. If a single parent can’t afford housing, how is he or she supposed to afford food, clothing, medicines, and diapers for a baby? Fortunately, Edmonton has many social programs including, but not limited to social housing initiatives and subsidized services to assist these young mom’s with supporting their children.
Terra Association , in Edmonton, assists teen parents and young families to overcome the hardships faced when unexpected pregnancies occur. Terra assists an average 600 clients and their children annually. These clients are teen moms, young dads and young families striving to make a better life for themselves and their children. Terra offers many services to assist these young people in reaching their goals. Like any other charitable organization, Terra requires the help of the community as a whole to provide these services.
For the past three years, Terra Association has held a diaper drive in Edmonton dubbed Baby Heroes. Its goal of raising 5,000 boxes of diapers is a tough one to meet. In past years, they have fallen short of this goal even with the dedicated efforts of groups such as the Realtors Association of Edmonton. If you consider a baby can use up to 200 diapers per month, the number of diapers utilized by Terra clients can be in the area of 1.4 million diapers per year. Terra’s goal of 5,000 cases of 24 diapers is 120,000 units, or just under 10 per cent of the needs of their clients. Money saved by these teens and young families can be put towards educational pursuits, rent, food and other incidentals babies require.
In 2009, Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski decided to challenge people, using social media tools, to fill his Smart Car with diapers for Terra. I joined Doug for a six day social media campaign. In those six days we raised approximately 12,000 diapers for Terra. We used ONLY social media, made two phone calls and had one short meeting. If we can see this result in one week, what can we do within two months?
We have decided to challenge the Realtors Association of Edmonton this year. What is the challenge? The challenge is simple. Can a group of politicians from various parties and levels of government raise more diapers than a group of real estate agents? We believe, by putting partisan politics aside, utilizing our fundraising skills, and having some non-partisan FUN, we can raise in excess of 65,000 diapers and, at the same time, exceed the 52,000 units raised by realtors last year. We would do this with as little interruption to our schedules as possible. We understand the political arena is busy, busy, busy in Alberta right now. Our volunteer public relations coordinator will plan small social events where we would invite friends and the public to attend fun evenings and show their support for Terra by donating diapers as an entry fee. Once again, our internal challenge would be to do as much of the diaper and fundraising utilizing the various social media tools available to us, rather than conventional methods. The diapers will be delivered to Terra Associaton at Braemar School utilizing several donated Smart Cars, thus the name of the drive, Diapers on Wheels. The drive will kickoff on October 12th, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. at Edmonton City Hall.
So far we have received commitments from Edmonton-Castledowns MLA The Honourable Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Employment and Immigration, Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski, Edmonton-Riverview Wildrose Party candidate John Corie, Edmonton-Rutherford Wildrose Party candidate Kyle McLeod, Edmonton-Manning Wildrose Party candidate Daryl Bonar, and Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood Wildrose Party candidate Wayde Lever. This team is being supported by public relations professional Tamara Stecyk, NAIT graduate Kat Versteegt and Fusedlogic’s Walter Schwabe.
We would like to invite members of the Legislative Assembly, candidates and other supporters from any party in Alberta, Edmonton city councillors, and Edmonton federal Members of Parliament to join us in this effort. With the help of the above mentioned people, and your help, I am certain that, in a period of two months, we should be able to not only meet, but exceed, the target of 65,000 diapers. With less than a couple of hours per month commitment, and the power of our smart phones, this goal is very achievable.
To join our team, feel free to contact me at 780-964-9095 at any time. If you need further information, feel free to contact me or Doug Elniski, at email@example.com.
Remember, were it not for people like us, organizations like Terra Association could not do the work they do.