A Better Community Day – Our Reflections

IMG_6856Hamilton HIVE members were among the over 100 Hamilton community members who registered for A Better Community Day (ABCD). Organized by the Mohawk Students Association (MSA), the Sunday event brought together some diverse non-profit partners that address various social issues in Hamilton: Food4Kids, City School and the Escarpment Project as well as volunteer partners McMaster Students Union and Redeemer University College. The self-proclaimed mission of ABCD was to “collaborate as one community to make tomorrow’s Hamilton better than today’s” and it certainly delivered on this statement.

The event began in the morning with registration, lunch and a speech. At 1 p.m., volunteers departed for their various volunteer areas and tasks across the city. The Escarpment Project involved trail cleanups at two key areas: Red Hill Valley Trail and James St. Stairs. Food4Kids volunteering involved purchasing a select list of groceries and assembling cookbooks for families in the organization’s summer program. Volunteers with City School, in partnership with the Eva Rothwell Resource Centre, knocked on doors in the Dundas neighbourhood to raise awareness and funds to send kids to summer camp.


HIVE Vice-Chair Michael Parente: Red Hill Valley clean-up at King and Lawrence

20160403_144007The chilly weather and imminent snowfall did not deter volunteers who arrived at the Red Hill Valley parking lot at King and Lawrence in the early afternoon. We were equipped with gloves and bright orange garbage bags and started our task.

I have to admit that when I enjoy excursions into the Red Hill Valley and other beautiful trails around the city, picking up other people’s trash is not top of mind. When I spot litter on a trail, I usually have a critical thought about the person who discarded it but I don’t usually pick it up.

Helping with ABCD and The Escarpment Project to clean up the Red Hill Valley certainly made me aware of just how much garbage becomes discarded litter (even with a garbage receptacle close by!). In less than three hours we’d filled up almost 20 bags of trash and collected two old tires. I must admit, I was rather disturbed and tried to imagine how much garbage there could be in the whole of the Valley.

Community events like The Escarpment Project and A Better Community Day are more than just an opportunity to feel good about ourselves. I saw the real difference we made that day quantified in the number of filled orange garbage bags. Engaging in the community in these kinds of ways is never an exercise in futility. Rather, it demonstrates the ongoing commitment that is necessary when we live, work and play together in a shared natural environment.

I can tell you this: My experience with ABCD has ensured that trail trash will always be top of mind when I’m enjoying one of Hamilton’s beautiful nature areas. There’s no reason why every nature walk can’t be a clean-up effort!

 

HIVE Chair Alyssa Lai: City School/Eva Rothwell Centre blitz of Dundas neighbourhood 

They say there is power in numbers, and sometimes, all it takes is ABCD to show us that.

The goal behind A Better Community Day is simple: making tomorrow’s Hamilton better than today’s. The event saw families, children, students and community members coming out on a Sunday to volunteer for nonprofits and charities.

IMG_6874I joined a group of more than ten people to volunteer for Eva Rothwell Resouce Centre. We met at University Plaza and divided into groups of four to scour the Dundas neighbourhood. The goal was to speak with residents about Eva Rothwell and collect donations for its kids summer camp program.

The temperature was below zero but spirits were soaring high. My group was determined to collect as many donations as we could (no, it wasn’t a competition and fundraising wasn’t the goal, but still…). I’ve never done door-to-door canvassing before but each door I knocked on was easier than the last.

We visited more than 30 households. Residents were polite and respectful. They listened to us. One homeowner even invited us inside to keep warm while she rummaged for change in her purse.

After two hours of canvassing, we raised $42. We thought we’d come back with only $2 or none at all. We were excited.

Why do experiences like ABCD matter? It shows you the good that can come out of the community when they put their hearts and minds together.

For me, it reminds me why I live in this city and what I can do for my community.

 

IMG_6869Special mention goes to HIVE Treasurer Luke Baylis who also sits as president of the Mohawk Students Association. The MSA organized an amazing event that truly brought together Hamilton community members as a unified whole, contributing to some wonderful causes. Congratulations on a wonderful A Better Community Day!

Posted on April 5, 2016 in Hamilton HIVE blog, HIVE Society

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