Director’s Corner: This month marks the return of our third annual and much-loved #WrapUpHope campaign.
Wrapped up in hope
This month's magazine might feel a little heftier than most months, and for good reason. Bulking up every December issue of Megaphone you’ll find unique, local, holiday wrapping paper designed by Megaphone’s homeless and low-income vendors. And it’s free!
This month marks the return of our third annual and much-loved #WrapUpHope campaign. Every year we ask vendors to submit their design ideas, and volunteer Art Director Justyna Krol takes two special ideas and makes magic of them. This year’s designs were created by Vancouver vendor Rodney McNeely and Victoria vendor Richard Gerrand.
When you give a gift wrapped in Megaphone’s wrapping paper, you also share a vendor’s story. Each design features a vendor’s profile on the back of the paper they designed. And, our holiday wrapping paper is a perfect fit to wrap up our Hope in Shadows calendar for a friend.
Share your support for Megaphone vendors: post a photo of your wrapping paper in action and use the hashtag #WrapUpHope to spread the word!
As we arrive at the end of 2017, I’m looking for those bright spots of hope. This year, we have much to mourn, much to celebrate, and much to do together in the months ahead. This year we mourn vendors gone too soon: Jim Ryder, Ron McGrath, Derek Anchiuk, and John Edward Hall. We mourn loved ones taken by drug poisoning in the ongoing overdose crisis that is on track to claim 1,500 lives in B.C. this year.
In the face of these hardships, 2017 has also been a year of growth for Megaphone. As I come to the close of my first full year as executive director, I know too we have much to celebrate.
And I’m more determined than ever that Megaphone is so needed in these times.
That’s because when you buy a magazine from your local Megaphone vendor you’re laying the groundwork for big-picture social change: the kind of change that begins to be possible when we see each other as fully human.
In the past year, vendors earned $150,000 through magazine and calendar sales.
Through hard work and dedication, vendors sold out the 2017 Hope in Shadows calendar. And as of this year, vendors have earned more than $1 million through calendar sales since the project launched in 2003.
In our advocacy, last winter Megaphone successfully pushed for warming centres after the heartbreaking death of our vendor Mike on the streets.
In the wake of that tragedy, we also secured a commitment from both the BC NDP and BC Greens to support a Death Review Panel on homeless deaths.
And this fall, we launched the How to Save a Life event series as a response to the overdose crisis, bringing stories from people who use drugs and overdose response training to neighbourhoods all over Vancouver.
All this is powered by hundreds of small donations, by the support of visionary organizations, and by customers buying the magazine each month. It’s powered by vendors hitting the streets every day doing the nitty-gritty work of social change: building relationships, one conversation at a time.
Every time we lift up people most affected by an issue builds power. Every time we pass the mic to amplify voices too often silenced builds power. Every time you buy a magazine you are telling Megaphone vendors: you matter to me. I am in this with you. We are in this together.
By being part of the Megaphone community, you’re building community power toward real social change.
We need your help
Megaphone needs your help to offer opportunity for meaningful work to people experiencing poverty. Events this year—from the overdose crisis to NIMBY protests in Marpole—have shown me again that the Megaphone community has a role to play in fighting stigma, building connected communities, and fueling compassionate responses to social ills.
Please consider making a donation to Megaphone’s year-end fundraising campaign.
We need to raise $25,000 this winter to ensure we can follow through on our big plans for next year. Whether $10 or $1,000 is meaningful to you, we appreciate every single person who makes Megaphone possible.
Megaphone is more than a job opportunity for low-income folks. It is a community of people who believe we all have something to contribute. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I couldn’t be happier about doing it alongside all of you.
Jessica Hannon is the executive director of Megaphone. Photo of Vancouver vendor Valerie Fielding by Geoff Webb.