Here is a (belated) list of OPIRG McMaster’s wonderful new and returning volunteer Working Groups, each with contact info so you can get in touch directly:
Julie Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendell Fields email@example.com
FOCUS and GOALS
- To raise the self-esteem of people living in poverty by making them aware of their rights
- To help other groups through networking and volunteer work -eg- flyering, therefore coming together to work on similar causes and create alliances
making the public aware of social and culture differences in order to dispel myths and promote understanding and appreciation between people
Leafletting, research, participating in events where volunteers are needed.
McMaster Battery Recycling Organization
Jennifer Li: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zdravko Simko: email@example.com
DESCRIBE THE FOCUS OF YOUR WORKING GROUP
Recycle used batteries, reduce local battery hazards
HOW IS YOUR WORKING GROUP HELPING TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE?
By recycling used batteries, as well as informing locals regarding the benefits of recycling batteries.
WHAT SORTS OF ACTIVITY DO YOU SEE THE WORKING GROUP INVOLVED IN?
Environmental discussion group,
COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER ACTION GROUP (CVAG)
Wen Yang (Lisa) Fu firstname.lastname@example.org
Describe the focus of your working group
We are a network of volunteering groups where students volunteer regularly in groups at agencies in Hamilton and where students:
- Discover the larger Hamilton community
- Learn about and help address inner-city issues
- Make a significant difference where it is needed
- Share and reflect on volunteer experiences with other McMaster students
- Gain valuable insights and skills
List a few goals you would like to achieve with the working group this year.
Recruit over 300 students for weekly volunteering groups at various agencies in Hamilton, with a focus on reflection and discussion of the broader societal implications related to the volunteer work.
Starting placements at the new Eva Rothwell and Jamesville Community Centres. These new placements will have a focus on leadership development, where volunteers will learn about these neighbourhoods and help to shape the programs that are offered.
Starting an environment-focused placement. This group will engage in research and action projects on campus and in the community in partnership with other environment groups. Group discussion will relate the projects to systemic causes and to personal environmental impact.
How is your working group benefiting the public interest?
There is a direct benefit to the Hamilton community in the form of over 6000 volunteer hours during the course of the year. Students are exposed to the broader issues in the community such as poverty, environment, and barriers to recent immigrants. The focus on regular group discussion encourages systemic and political understanding of social justice issues and the development of leadership and lifelong civic engagement.
What sorts of activity do you expect the working group involved in? (list as many as possible)
- 27 weekly volunteering groups
- Approximately 40 student facilitators coordinating the weekly groups
- Regular leadership development meetings for facilitators
- Occasional events on campus
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: SELF HELP PROJECTS
Emily DiNardo email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Josie D”Aimico email@example.com
The team operating this group is a mix of students from McMaster University, and St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, who have been educated about the joys and struggles in the Dominican Republic, by participating in a social justice program for two weeks this past summer. By living with the people for two weeks, our group has come back to Canada with the desire to assist the people of the Dominican Republic by providing assistance to develop “self- help projects.” Our focus is to raise awareness by co-coordinating a variety of fundraisers to assist in building our plans for the self-help projects. By remaining in communication with the friends we have left behind in the Dominican, we plan to work together to develop projects that will fit their desires and needs.
Our group has decided at this time to mainly focus on two specific self-help projects including selling the fair-trade coffee we have brought back with us, and developing a breakfast program in Las Pajas, a batey in the Dominican Republic we visited. Our goals are to provide these two projects with the assistance needed to benefit the people in these areas. The group also intends to remain in communication with the people of the Dominican, to work with them to plan other self-help projects needed. One of the long-term goals that the group has in mind is looking into establishing a fair-trade and organic label to enable the “La Esperanza” coffee growers to sell their coffee in the fair-trade business in Canada. It is something that is desperately wanted in the city of Los Cacao by their coffee growers, as this association provides a large variety of assistance to its city (creating schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and post-secondary education, etc).
Our group is benefiting the public by educating the people of Hamilton, as well as encouraging them to support the people of the Dominican Republic. Our group is always looking for new members who are interested in working with us to learn about social justice, as well as joining our summer program, the Dominican Republic Faith Experience. Many people are unaware of the injustice that occurs from purchasing coffee from large corporations and the effects it has on the people who harvest it. By selling our fair-trade coffee, we can raise awareness, as well as providing great assistance to our friends in the Dominican. Secondly many people are unaware of the term, “social justice” and the importance of incorporating it in assisting the less fortunate. Educating others in the most powerful way to help the less fortunate and creates a greater awareness and desire to assist those in need.
FIRST NATIONS STUDENT ASSOCIATION
Danielle Boissoneau firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicky Bomberry email@example.com
The focus of our working group is to raise critical awareness fo Indigenous complexities within Canada and the larger global community on McMaster campus.
Goals we’d like to achieve
- successful “Indigeous Awareness Day” focused on the arts November 8
- Term 2 – conference with Six Nations Delegation of Youth and Education Side Table focused on political landscape between indigenous nations of Canada and Canada
- cultural awareness – socials, guest speakers (ex. Keviin Annett), craft workshops
Our working group focuses on achieving a focused awareness on “Indigenous” peoples of Canada and North America. We hope to link our struggles with other Indigenous nations globally to make people realize it’s not only “Native” people who face the devastating effects of colonialism and imperialism.
However our group is largely dedicated to the revitalization of Onkwehonwe culture and therefore focus on good minded events whereby we encourage people to think critically for innovative change.
FOOD NOT BOMBS HAMILTON!
Alex Patterson firstname.lastname@example.org
Marya Folinsbee email@example.com
The intention of Food Not Bombs is to reduce the amount of food waste in the city, create a community in the downtown, provide a forum for political engagement to whoever is interested, and make explicit the inequalities in the system that allow poverty even in abundance.
FNB gets donations of unsellable food from the Locke Street Bagel Company, the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, and Plan B Organic Farms, preventing completely edible food from going to waste. We cook and serve a healthy vegetarian meal to anyone who’s hungry or interested every Sunday in Gore Park, starting at 4pm, rain or shine.
Reducing, however slightly, the amount of food that goes into the garbage every week helps to make explicit the wastefulness of the present economic system, while also directly alleviating part of the burden of poverty and/or homelessness that Hamilton faces. FNB’s willingness to feed anyone and everyone who wants to eat helps to connect people in the community and break down some of the class barriers that prevent communication and understanding between citizens.
The primary and fundamental activity of FNB is collecting food donations, preparing a meal, and serving that meal, once a week in Gore Park. This summer we have also grown and maintained an organic plot at the Paradise Community Garden, which we’ve harvested and added to the weekly meals.
Some of our other plans this year include creating a community bulletin board to inform folks about events in the community, and provide a forum for information dissemination; creating a few issues of an FNB zine, with articles, recipes, drawings and more; making it known how valuable urban farmland is, and supporting Paradise Garden; and supporting the work of other activist groups by having a presence at their events.
GIVING LIFE IN THE RURAL (GLITR)
Navita Dyal firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Rajkumar email@example.com
Improving quality of life in outlying and underprivileged areas
GLITR is dedicated to measurably enhancing the quality of life of those who lack access to critical public health infrastructure assets. This is especially geared toward those inhabiting outlying and unprivileged areas.
The primary goal is to raise enough money to enhance a pioneer cardiology project in Guyana, a Third World country. The cardiology project aims to screen, diagnose, and treat heart disease – from using simple non-invasive diagnostic techniques to conducting open-heart surgeries. Unfortunately this project is only available to paying patients. As a result GLITR’s goal is to enhance this project by awarding monetary funds to qualifying candidates who lack the financial means to access this new service.
After this goal has been met, GLITR will work, on an ad hoc basis, to enhance the dismal quality of life in underprivileged societies, again focusing on poverty-stricken, isolated rural regions.
It is in the public interest that we facilitate the provision of potentially life-saving medical technology. Currently, aside from drug therapies, there is limited treatment for coronary disease in Guyana, and as a result, Guyanese are forced to travel to Trinidad & Tobago, the closest island, for other treatment options. Obviously, only those who can afford to travel and pay for surgery, rehabilitation, etc. abroad will receive this care; and since Guyana is a Third World country, the bracket of people who can afford this is very small. Even those who can afford to travel are at a disadvantage, because the key to treating a disease is diagnosing the problem at the earliest stage possible, to avoid further deterioration.
Now that this pioneer project is opening up new avenues to Guyanese, the question is; can the people who require these services the most, access these services, since these services are only available for paying patients. Invariably, it is the lower income people who are the most vulnerable. This is where GLITR comes into play; we are focused on helping this target group – the grass roots people.
GUATEMALAN WORKING GROUP
Contact: carolyn konrad, firstname.lastname@example.org or Shelley Porteous, email@example.com
- Work in conjunction and solidarity with grassroots groups in Guatemala towards social justice, autonomy, dignity, locally controlled development, human rights, etc.
- Organize with other like-organizations in Canada on-going campaigns, lobbying, letter-writing, sharing information and strategies.
- Urgent Actions.
- strengthen established ties and friendships with guatemalan groups, organizations and networks
- promote Guatemalan fairtrade coffee locally
- host and promote tours from Guatemala
- bring new folks aboard
- offer to university and public at large information on Canadian involvement in Guatemala, such as Canadian mining industries, and there ramifications.
- possibly raise funds for local projects
- organize events/presentation/film nights on recent Guatemalan realities
- It is our goal that the general and university public will be more aware of Guatemalan issues, resistance movements. Additionally, to understand our role or our International/Canadian responsibility vis-a-vis free trade agreements that directly affect Guatemalan communities.
MEXICO: Walking with Tlama
Shekufeh Zonji firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelley Porteous email@example.com 905 525 9140 ext. 27289
This working group is focused on raising funds and awareness for the village of Tlamacazapa and the NGO “Caminamos Juntos para Salud y Desarrollo”
List a few goals you would like to achieve with the working group this year.
- Present at the Global Citizenship Conference, the Indigenous Health Conference, and other relevant conferences
- Do workshops for Experiential education, Service Learning and other relevant groups at mcmaster
- Do presentations to outside groups like churches, school groups etc.
How is your working group benefiting the public interest?
* It is opening dialogue on globally pressing issues like the economics of water, sustainable development, participatory action etc.
* Also allowing cross-cultural connections through art
Zsuzsi Fodor firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanette Eby email@example.com
Nonviolence Now exists to expose people, especially youth, to the benefits of reducing discrimination and violence. Using interactive workshops and awareness events, Nonviolence Now promotes the values of respect, acceptance and empathy. We believe a non-violent approach to life will contribute to peoples’ ability to respond positively to conflict, ultimately supporting the global peace movement.
Nonviolence Now strives ultimately to bring awareness of discrimination and violence, so that individuals may create positive change in their community. We hope to accomplish this through organized workshops, awareness events and sustainable projects in schools. NVN hopes to incorporate peace education into Ontario’s education curriculum.
NonviolenceNow benefits the public interest by engaging the public, particularly youth, in discourse on peace and themes within it. The intention of our efforts is to promote a culture of peace within the Hamilton and McMaster community through our workshops and special events in hopes that nonviolence will then be observed.
Allison Eady firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Hopperton email@example.com
* Describe the focus of your working group
To facilitate the introduction of McMaster students and Hamilton community members to Nonviolent Communication, and to work as a group to figure out ways to apply NVC in the community to promote peace and compassion in everyday communication.
* List a few goals you would like to achieve with the working group this year.
This year we hope to create more ties within the community outside of the university, and bring together students and other residents of our city to talk about issues relating to compassionate communication, and figure out ways to work together to make a difference in our common areas of interest using compassionate communication. We also hope to help individual members pursue their interests in the applications of NVC, whether it be through practice, discussions, or further learning.
* How is your working group benefiting the public interest?
The intent of this working group is to increase the general level of compassion and empathy in communication both on campus and in the community through skills training, mediation services, or any other methods that I hope this group can inspire.
Contact – Dean 905-577-7753
Hamilton’s first and only all volunteer-run, community-based non-profit bicycle repair workshop
* Location – 19 Pearl Street North, Hamilton, Ontario (basement of Erskine Presbyterian Church – enter off Morden Street)
* Hours – Open to the public – Saturday’s 9am to 12 noon; Volunteer shop hours Tuesday’s 6-9 pm
* Recycle Cycles Goals: to prevent unused bikes from being discarded/to promote cycling as a non-polluting transportation option/to make bicycles and bicycling accessible/to empower individuals with bicycle maintenance skills/to promote bicycle safety
* What do we do? RC accepts community donations of bikes and bike parts/provide fixed bikes in exchange for a donation/operate a workshop where we provide advice and tools for bike repair, in exchange for sweat equity or a donation/organize special events to promote cycling in the Hamilton Community/donate bikes to humanitarian causes
Bob Hicks firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Zang email@example.com
SMART focuses on the environment and the numbers often needed or not used to describe environmental problems or concerns.
We will launch a documentary titled “the Shocking Truth” about greenhouse gases and transportation, and distribute this to other universities/schools, etc across Canada and around the world for education of people everywhere.
Ali Hamandi firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Chiu email@example.com
Abdil Samed looks much younger than his eight years. Long denied a nutritious and fulfilling diet, he is one of approximately one thousand children working in the Rabat bazaar, the largest of its kind in North Morocco.
Samed earns the equivalent of eighty-two US cents a day as a local beggar – a measly sum to survive in one of the most expensive and tourist-filled cities in the country.
Like many children in Morocco’s capital, Abdil’s plight is not unusual; in fact, there are worse. As poverty and an ever-so increasing socioeconomic gap continues to grip this North African country, the number of street children has now reached alarming proportions, demanding for greater action than presently being offered.
In working at a Moroccan street children’s center for over two months, Michael and I have come face to face with the reality that faces many of the world’s street children. For instance, we worked with kids that begged until the early hours of the morning, continuously abused by their guardians, and that, virtually, had nothing to eat. We witnessed children that slept and lived entirely on the streets, in abandoned buildings, under bridges, in public squares, and most importantly, without any family contact at all. Upon our return to Canada, Michael and I did not feel right and wanted to do something about what we had observed.
Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its associated treaties, children have the right to adequate shelter, healthcare, and education. Additionally, they must be able to depend on the adult world to look after them, to defend their rights, and to help them develop and realize their potential. These rights, however, are not exercised and oftentimes, neglected. For instance, according to the Canadian International Development Agency, the global figure for children living and working on the world’s city streets is likely well over 100 million children. Agreeably, this number is humanely unacceptable and one that continually demands serious action. Street Wize’s focus would be to contribute to this action, regardless of the magnitude of its contributions.
2) List a few goals you would like to achieve with the working group this year.
Since this is a new working group, our goals for this year may not seem significant; however, they are in that they will form a basis for securing a successful and meaningful working group in the future. Some of these
* Finding and integrating new members
* Establishing an executive team
* Continually advertise the existence and purpose of the group via various means
* Look into possible local volunteer placements involving street or abandoned children
* Hold mini Fundraisers, such as for a street children’s association in Morocco
* Initiate a Street Wize newsletter highlighting humanitarian news
* Look into organizing a mini-conference for McMaster students
3) How is your working group benefiting the public interest?
Currently, it is estimated that there are between one hundred and one hundred and fifty million street children worldwide. This number will increase to eight hundred million by the year 2020 (UNICEF). Often, these children are overlooked by governments and absolutely have no voice. Street children can range from those who live at home, but beg on the streets all day in order to contribute to their family’s income to children who do not have a family or a home and are forced to live as orphans on the street. Many people in our society do not realize the severity of the situation. Our group seeks to raise awareness for this chronic problem through various programs and to raise money for established foundations that support these children. We, as a society, must realize that the children of today are going to be the citizens of the future.
4) What sort of activities do you expect the working group to be involved in?
Ultimately, it would be ideal for the working group to be involved in a variety of activities, including:
* Organizing relevant conferences and workshops
* Volunteering at local placements, including aboriginal centers
* Organizing entertaining fundraisers (i.e.- a show, walk, musical night, etc.)
* Organizing valuable programs (i.e.-a tutoring program at a local shelter)
* Public speaking at schools, conferences, etc.
* Out-of-town volunteer trips (nationally and internationally)
STUDENTS FOR A RENEGADE SOCIETY
Todd Westcott firstname.lastname@example.org
Marya Folinsbee email@example.com
The Students for a Renegade Society is focused on changing the mental space of McMaster and Hamilton.
They intend to achieve this through radical cultural actions that are intended to liberate space, alter the perception of space and challenge blind authoritarian structures.
List a few goals…
– To broaden the radical community at Mac and in Hamilton
– To make alternative possibilities and discourses more accessible
– To engage with each other and sew the seeds for a stronger post-collapse community
Benefits to Public Interest…
– We make people question their daily lives and thus provoke critical inquiry into the structures that define their lives.
– Unexpert Lectures
– Grocery Store Tour
– Radical Theatre Troupe
THEATRE OF LIBERATION PROJECT (TLCP)
Simon C. DeAbreu firstname.lastname@example.org
The history of participatory theatre goes back thousands of years. In the 21st Century, theatre artists like Augusto Boal (Theatre of the Oppressed) and Canadian, David Diamond (Theatre for the Living) have inspired Simon De Abreu (TLC Project Coordinator) to seek out opportunities to work for Social Justice.
Simon works to set up a positive, safe, non-threatening space that allows students to creatively find their artistic voice & share ideas they hold dear.
Simon is a recent graduate of McMaster University. He studied Communication, Theatre and Film and is presently in the Theatre Studies Graduate Program at York University. He has studied with world renowned theatre practitioner, Augusto Boal in L.A. and with his son, Julian Boal in Montreal. Simon has also studied with the well respected Canadian theatre activist, David Diamond in Vancouver.
“I like to build on people’s lived experiences and I strive to develop and encourage the use of conflict transformation skills. I also aim to foster in young people a greater appreciation for the environment and its associated links to a more compassionate ways of living.” – Simon De Abreu
TRANSPORTATION FOR LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES
TLC aims to improve conditions for sustainable transportation by lobbying government and interest groups, by supporting initiatives that seek to increase amenities and infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users, and by holding public events and demonstrations that raise awareness about sustainable transportation.
To see an increase in space alloted to alternatives to private automobiles, to see that different levels of government plan, support and implement policies and services that priortize public transit, cycling and pedestrian issues, and generally to seek to restore a balance to the transportation network that would make cities, towns and rural places more liveable.
We also aim to be a place where students and community members can participate meaningfully in all our activities, bringing their talents, insights, knowledge, and energy to the issues of transportation policy.
Transportation issues are one of the most pressing areas in our culture that need a shift from the dominant paradigm. Road-related fatalities, human, social and infrastructure costs associated with accidents, road building and maintenance, smog and other pollutants, contribution to global warming, the breakdown of communities are just some of the public interests involved in our group’s mandate.