For the 11th consecutive year, all teams from Bison Sports volunteered at Siloam Mission over the winter break by helping with the distribution of breakfast and lunch. At the same time that assistance was being provided at 300 Princess St., current track and field athlete Eric Guy, along with 2014-15 member Chad Enns, their brothers Alex and Liam respectively, and fellow U of M student Wade Ryplanski were already planning their next volunteer initiative.
Their not-for-profit group Culture for Kindness was created this past August, and “offers a platform for people to help improve the lives of those in need, as well as create leaders in the community,” according to Enns.
While the group was started in August, its origin can be traced back to mid-July, when Guy came up with the idea for a “week of kindness,” in which all five founding members were tasked with coming up with a different volunteering aim for a certain day of the week, such as a clothing drive or giving blood. The concept was a huge success and also brought together numerous young people throughout the city. Shortly afterwards, Culture for Kindness was born, its foundation being an assortment of activities within the community that give back.
Each month, Culture for Kindness offers two different volunteer opportunities and attempts to match volunteering with people’s availability in order to provide as many chances to help out as possible.
“I think that most people want to help,” Guy said. “I’ve never asked someone, ‘hey, would you like to help out,’ and had them say ‘no.’ It’s never been that way. It’s always been, ‘yes, I’m just really busy’ or ‘I’m not sure what to do.’”
“If I can create a platform and just give them the opportunity where it’s like, I’ve literally done everything, just show up for two hours, I think that a lot of people will be interested.”
In the fall term, for example, the group organized over 200 volunteering hours, which included supplying hygiene products to the rehabilitation centre for victims of abuse within the Women’s Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre, as well as helping out at Inner City Youth Alive – which provides a “safe, active, and nurturing environment for children and youth, many of whom experience poverty, abuse, and neglect,” according to its website.
Heading into the winter term, the founding five will sit down to discuss which programs they’d like to target and will get the word out accordingly. A few of their main proposals include working alongside those with special needs, as well as the simple concept of getting onto the streets to help eliminate the stigma of homelessness.
“My big thing is I want people to get out there. I’d love it if people donate money or whatever, but you don’t necessarily see that,” Guy said. “When you see a homeless person and you have a conversation with them and you realize, oh they’re actually just a really cool person, it’s so different.”
For more information about the group and to learn how to potentially get involved, visit Culture for Kindness’s Facebook group.