Shelan Emre provides care packages for newcomer families during COVID

What was the goal of your project?

After my project was adapted the goal was to provide summer essentials for 50 newcomer families in Winnipeg. I wanted to provide toys, games, snacks, toiletries, school supplies, and information about the city for newcomer families. I have accomplished my goal and I think by providing the families these baskets of goodies, they were able to explore the city and ease the financial stress that comes with having fun in the summer especially during this pandemic.

How many people were directly impacted by your project?

The response from my project has been overwhelmingly positive, not only from the families directly impacted but by my team and my families and friends. I made 50 baskets and provided them to 50 families. Those 50 families consisted of 98 adults and 205 youth.
All the families were gracious of the packages, but some showed it more than others. Roza was a 4-year-old girl and she was so excited to see the ABC Canada Book and couldn’t wait to learn how to read it! There was another family who received a rainbow loom kit and the 11-year old girl said, “thank you so much, I have always wanted a rainbow loom!”. Ali was a 6-year-old boy who was over the moon excited when he saw the giant colouring book and the plethora of Crayola supplies, he couldn’t wait to colour! Zachary was a 4-year-old boy who received a golf set and when he saw it he couldn’t help but immediately open it up and start playing! Seeing the excitement from the kids was so amazing and unlike anything, I had ever seen. Seeing the excitement the families showed was so rewarding, I could visually see myself making a difference in the community. These families have gone through so many struggles since being in a new country I was so glad I was able to provide them with these care packages.

How did the community receive your project?

My community has provided positive feedback and has shared my project on their website and there will be an article in the next newsletter, this is very exciting. I posted the project on my personal FaceBook and Instagram accounts and only got positive comments and messages about the impact I am making and encouragement to keep going on my path of making change.

What did you learn as you planned your project? Were there any changes you did not plan for?

I learned so much from this project. My original project was a full day event with newcomer youth and that was adapted due to the Coronavirus and the social distancing percasuions. Once I made my new plan of care packages for newcomer families, I had only minor hiccups. One of the hardest challenges I faced was regarding the shopping. Once I had my shopping lists ready with quantities and price-matches noted it and I went to the store most times I wasn’t able to purchase all the quantities I needed. I was able to get around this by ordering online, visiting multiple stores for the same items and returning to the same stores once they had more stock. Another challenge I faced was the language barrier, but I was able to overcome that by working with volunteers who spoke multiple languages as well as talking slowly. For safety reasons I didn’t want to delivery, the packages to the families by myself so I had to rely on others to come with me, coordinating times was a challenge that was easily overcome by first coordinating with the families followed by the volunteers.

What went well with your project?

I am so proud to say I learned so much about myself, my community and non-profit work from this project. I had so many successes and they have only motivated me more to continue making community impacts. My most successful accomplishment and moment from the project was delivering the baskets to the families and seeing the kids so excited and the parents so gracious!

If you could do things differently, what would you do?

Overall, I think my project was very successful and was executed smoothly. If I was to do this project again, I would have like to allow for more time to get to know the families on a personal level. I learned about the struggles specific families faced and the reasons they came to Canada, this was extremely sad in some cases and only makes me proud to be Canadian. I would have liked to hear from more families about their journey, and how they came to Canada. This was the biggest project I have been the lead for, and I continued to develop my skills as a delegator, leader and team member. I was able to use my problem solving skills during times of challenge.

Do you have any suggestion or advice you would like us to share with other youth who are accessing the grant program?

I am so proud of all the success and support the Award has provided and I am so grateful for the opportunity. My advice for anyone who is considering the grant would be to just go for it, although it can seem daunting and scary it is important to remember this is your passion and the impact that is made from the use of the grant is incredible. I would remind those who are accessing the grant program there is so much support all around you. For me, I had all my friends from the award as well as the staff who had amazing recommendations and were always there to help when I had questions. 

A struggle I faced during this project was finding myself comparing my project and my abilities to others. While I was happy and proud of the change my friends were making in their communities, sometimes I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. My recommendation to others starting projects would be to remember comparison is the thief of joy, we don’t need to compare ourselves to be happy for others or encourage others but rather be motivated by the success we are surrounded with. No change is too small, and our impacts are only going to get greater!

Shelan Emre, Award Participant, Passion to Purpose Scaleup Participant

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