This brief article, in no way sums up how passionately I love this organization and the people who work in it. The commitment of the vendors to change their lives, to run their own micro-business, and sell Megaphone come rain, come shine is beyond inspiring. I was truly blessed to work in the office selling the magazines to the vendors, getting to know them, and they were awesome. I have rarely met such kind-hearted people; I was given amazing cookies, candles, fruit and more for no other reason than they wanted to share. At the same time, I also had the honor of reading some of the most amazing poems and stories I’ve ever seen. Some were so beautiful and uplifting and some were tales that absolutely broke my heart; the pain and the isolation, the challenges of living in a society that treats its homeless members as less than human without knowing the struggles that brought them to those places; and unless you work down there and meet the people, you really don’t have even a fraction of the information on which to base such opinions. The people I have met and worked with directly at Megaphone and the Lifeskills Centre working as a creative writing facilitator opened my eyes to the truly caring and generous nature of so many people in the dtes community. I met incredibly brilliant writers, amazing artists, and photographers, filmmakers and musicians. The spirit of the community is alive and vital with positive growth such as another new urban farm in the community! There is hope in the face of incredible poverty, addiction, and the ever increasing gentrification, an ever present challenge in terms of housing, access to healthy food and proper care facilities to name just a few. Please read the following article and help in anyway you can manage!
“Run For Our Lives”
What am I doing and when?
I am doing the Hyde Creek duathalon on April 26th, The BMO ½ marathon on May 6th, and the Scotiabank ½ marathon on June 24th.
Why am I doing it?
To raise awareness, support and hopefully funds (yes, hurrah, donate today!) for the ever so splendiferous Megaphone Magazine and all of the great work they do!
Many years ago, I spotted a Megaphone vendor for the first time in front of Choice’s Market on Cambie and 18th. I took the time to talk with Bob, one of the long standing team members. I picked up my first copy and immediately read it from cover to cover in a coffee shop. I was as impressed with what I read as I had been by my wonderful chat with Bob. This one encounter led to many conversations and purchases of the paper and planted a seed in me that many years later would grow into a volunteer opportunity.
How and why did I become a volunteer?
I took a long and winding road to their door, but it was one that was easily opened once I decided. I myself have been unemployed for nearly 2 years and feeling at a loss as to what I should do with myself. I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder months before and was struggling with very intense depression and anxiety; that combined with my inability to get work for such an extended period of time led me to feeling broken and worthless. During that time, I rarely left my own room, never mind my house, but on one of my occasions out, I came across a vendor near where I live on Main Street. I hadn’t bought Megaphone in a few years, as I had been overseas and then back living in the suburbs for many years. When I picked up that copy, a thought sprouted suddenly, “I wonder if they need any volunteers?” I felt like maybe this was something I could do, somewhere where I might not be judged and where I’d have something to offer.
I e-mailed them and was asked to come in for a meeting. I opened the door that led me into a tiny closet of an office and into the lives of so many fantastic humans. The incredible bunch welcomed me; the tireless executive director Sean Condon, a wide array of hardworking vendors, and a spectacular bunch of volunteers. I can honestly say that joining Megaphone was one of the most transformative things that had happened to me in a long time.
Being unemployed for so long and not seeing a foreseeable end has given me a deeper insight into how we as a society value the lives of human beings by degree according to a very narrow definition of success and worth. I have only experienced a small taste of this judgement because I have been fortunate to be given privileges in my life that others haven’t and thus I can to greater or lesser degree hide my battles and their scars.
I know that this magazine offers great opportunities to low income men and women from the downtown eastside because I have seen the difference they make first hand. I also know that my own life has been made significantly better having had the chance to gain insight and perspective into the people and life on the Downtown Eastside; it has allowed me to experience the beautiful, generous and very human side of the community. These are lessons I won’t soon forget.
For all of the hard work and the incredibly crucial contribution Megaphone Magazine makes to the community at large, I will run; for them and for all of us. I sincerely ask that you cheer us on! And to share this with anyone and everyone!!!