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Date: 2015-07-18 05:16:30
Social Butterfly Club Monthly Newsletter Jan 2014



Happy Wooden Horse Year to you and your family! Live in abundance                               

Value of the Gift

Last fall I met a young man during my “Discover Your Sacred Gifts” event, and kept the connection through Facebook. He sent out a request to me asking me for fundraising tips, as he wants to crowdfund his college tuition. He was going to use the money for his post secondary education to become a children’s special needs teacher. With his gifts, I’m sure he would be fantastic at it.  I first reacted very poorly and accused him of  having a given sense of entitlement. My judgement came from that he’s not disabled, not a minority, healthy and intelligent young man, who has a full time job working in a restaurant. I gave him some advice, but I also made sure he knew where I stood. 
Later I found out that he had saved four years of his salary towards his tuition, and his dad had a sudden illness. That required him to give that money towards the medical expenses, and he went back to square one. 

Around the same time, I saw Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on “The Art of Asking”
which received more than 2 million views on YouTube. It was shared by my friend Ian MacKenzie. Something really shifted in me, it moved me and then I understood that we have been so conditioned to think in a commercialized way. That EVERYONE, including PEOPLE have become commodities and there must be an equal exchange, and there is no free lunch.  I know from Charles Enstein’s talks, that human society thrived and developed on the gift economy, and the uprising of crowdfunding is an illustration of the power of the gift.

From Amanda, I really learned that value is determined by each individual. By not putting a price on things, your audience or customer might surprise you with what they’re willing to pay! I learned that we do not need to feel guilty or have a sense of burden/shame when someone provides us with a gift. We must accept gratefully, and give what you can. I also learned the deep well of love that we all have in us can be used to uplift and empower one another. Money is only just one simple tool to allow more momentum, turning ideas into reality. What a marvellous thing! “When you ask, you connect with them, and people want to help you” was the essence of this talk.  I apologized to my young friend and went to Coquitlam to attend the fundraiser, brought door prizes and participated in their silent auction and won a few things.  From that event, he raised enough money for a whole year's tuition plus books, so now he's going to Douglas College, I'm grateful to him and Amanda for this wonderful life lesson.
Working with the Downtown Eastside
Are you a person that lock your doors and roll up the windows when driving through Hastings street? Disgusted by the smell and the very visible social decay?  I used to be one of those people, and avoided that area like the plague. It is home of the poorest postal code in Canada. Riddled with drug use, prostitution, and an overwhelming sense of lost hope. My first real encounter with the Vancouver Downtown East Side (VDTES) was when I was taking a Communications course as an university student. As a group project we had to create a media kit for a non-profit called Atira, a housing organization. While checking their reputation in the community, we met some really colourful characters. A leader of a local support organization came across rather combative. While very intelligent, his vocabulary was peppered with swear words. It was during this time speaking to many people in that community, that I learned for many street people, they lacked the social skills required to ask for the governmental help that is there. Programs designed to support them for housing, for employment, for counselling or healthcare, etc. 
Last summer, I volunteered one day to provide free massages at Oppenheimer Park to the DTES community with Beauty Nights (a non-profit that provides free makeovers to women in the DTES). Through my interactions with them, I was reminded that people are people.  They can be kind, lonely, strong, and varied like all the other people I have met in life.  It melted my heart to see smiles on faces hardened by the realities of life.  So I began volunteering once a month with East is East restaurant when they put on the complimentary lunch for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Shelter.  Around 50% of those who show up are elderly Chinese ladies. Unfortunately I don’t speak Cantonese, so I can’t really connect with them. It’s delightful to see them joyful and some even get up to dance to the live musical performances. 

My perspective really changed when I connected with my long time Social Butterfly Club member Albert Wei. Through his non-profit organization Strathcona Health Society, I got a first hand look at the various issues that the VDTES community faces.  I worked closely with my talented videographer Brook Lotzkar (604-315-5312) from Creative Inventory to create the 5 minutes promotional video for SHS ( We spoke to Dr. Lam (the Friday doctor), quite a few of the board members, and some clients. It’s amazing how getting rid of a toothache can be such a life changing experience.

I’m actively trying to find them publicity to spread the brand awareness, and finding them some financial support. SHS have a dream of opening up a second clinic in the Hastings and Renfew area, due to popular demand to serve their clients better.  Right now they have a typical 3-4 weeks wait for appointments.  My goal is to get businesses with retail locations to allow our volunteers to canvas outside their store to collect donations during weekends. The volunteers could hold a giant tooth piggybank (Is anyone out there who’s super crafty?  My three attempts with 3 separate friends has ended dismally…)  If you are interested in lowering crime rate, eradicating poverty, and want to lend a hand to help out the most vulnerable and in most desperate need of help, call Stephen Leary, the Executive Director of Strathcona Health Society at 604 713-5851, or for a tour of the Strathcona Community Dental Clinic which is located at 604 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada right in the Strathcona Elementary School.  It is extremely gratifying to use my talents to help those in need!  I feel like Popeye after he eats 3 cans of spinish.

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