David’s microdonation idea was one of the reasons I wanted to start Feature Friday. We talked on Twitter about the idea and how we could increase the exposure. And that conversation birthed this weekly feature. So I am very excited to share more about 5 Dollar Friday and why it’s so important.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?
I have been in Calgary since I was 12 and consider it home.
I dabbled in a couple of careers including hotel management and banking before I found that my perfect vocation was an Air Traffic Controller.
Due to shift work, my career provided great flexibility while my children were young. I was able to volunteer in their school, help make our community a better place, and be an involved parent. Now that they are older, it continues to provide me a fair bit of flexibility to continue volunteering for charities and non-profits that I am passionate about.
What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?
My own childhood groomed me to ensure that time with my kids would always be my first priority as you can never get time back. The result was recognizing deficiencies in my community including the lack of schools, the public education system, politics, recreation, and services and the impact on my family, so I became a community advocate. Even in their teenage years, finding time with them and working to make their world a better place is still a priority and I am very proud of the people they have become.
After my wife and I decided to separate, I took steps to reinvent myself while maintaining my core principles. This included evaluating my priorities, my friends, my goals and my journey. I questioned my purpose and what legacy I would leave behind one day and decided that I sincerely wanted to change the world, one person at a time. I was completely rebranding myself without knowing what the end result might be. I find it interesting that so few of us think about leaving a legacy or footprint of who we were.
Thanks to social media, I have been surrounding myself with people that are similarly motivated by opportunities to make things better in the world. This has helped me redefine myself. I also found that volunteering was easier and less stressful than dating.
Last November, I attended a Social Media Breakfast at the Calgary Drop In Centre, where I learned some surprises about homelessness in Calgary. About the same time, there was considerable public debate about the Christmas design on coffee cups and up to $7 to buy one. I had been thinking about how many people won’t donate to charity unless they are getting a tax receipt, which usually requires a minimum $20 donation. Yet those same people were arguing about $7 coffee, and I bet if they lost a $5 bill, they likely would not even notice.
I realized we needed to change how we think about donations and charity. I started reaching out on social media about my thoughts and found some support. Then a group of us decided to purchase and hand out $5 McDonalds and Tim Hortons gift cards in downtown Calgary to those that needed it. No tax receipt and yet friends wanted to get involved. A local athlete wanted to join us. A local news anchor donated cards. We had almost $1000 of gift cards so we ended up doing it 3 times and plan on doing it again soon. The Calgary Drop In Centre was very supportive and at one point, used the word ‘microdonation’ and instantly knew it was the word I needed. If kk, IRL, and bestie could be words in the dictionary, why couldn’t microdonation?
In January, I attended the Erin Skye Kelly Transformation Weekend. I was lost. I had no idea why I was there. Confidence, dating help, weight loss, I really didn’t know. But after a little work, I realized I was there to take my microdonation idea and run with it. A week later, thanks to amazing support at this event, 5 Dollar Friday was born, complete with a Twitter account, Facebook page, and website. Six months later, I think the idea is starting to spread. People are now asking me about it. And I love talking about it!
What inspires you most about your community?
It is the people in my life, including my children who inspire me. It is the people that go above and beyond every day to help others in this city and there are many. It is like we are a team. Even though we are individuals that support charities and non-profits important to us, you see the same people at events, volunteering, and supporting each other. It really is like a family and I love every one of them. The Kelsey’s, the Shane’s, the Moraig’s, the Nicky’s, the Donna’s, the Larry’s, the Julien’s, the Jan’s, the Terry’s, the Brittany’s, and so on.
If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?
Most of all, there is a difference between negative people and people that want to make a difference. I believe that people that speak up, sometimes mistakenly labeled as complainers, are the ones that effect change. And I have long been successful at it. There is a difference between people that complain because that is their personality, and people that complain to make things better. Imagine if no one ever spoke up! Rather than view a glass of water as half-full or half-empty, maybe more people should be asking who drank the water? Never listen to those that say “no”, or “it can’t be done”, or “it’s never been done before”, or “you can’t do that”. Most of all, don’t give up. And find your niche. What are you offering that no one else is?
Tell me three fun facts about yourself or your organization.
- I am a Calgary Flames season ticket holder.
- I am a member of 100 Men Who Give a Damn – Calgary.
- I write a column for a community newspaper distributed to 14000 Calgary homes every month.
Get in Touch
Facebook: Five Dollar Friday
Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!