Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
25Jan/120

How Volunteering at Lunapads Turned Into a Canucks Win

This post isn't exactly about our Canucks winning but please read on, this is about success and community.

Last fall during one of the Social Media Week panels, I had the opportunity to indirectly meet the two co-founders of Lunapads but it wasn’t actually until a few weeks later that we had the chance to bring our initial meetup offline. As previously blogged, meeting offline is important to further relationships with people in our local community. During EastVanLove, one of the two co-founders, Suzanne (on Twitter at @Luna_gal) was able to promote her own fundraiser for their trip to Uganda with a non profit organization called Shanti Uganda (on Twitter at @ShantiUganda). Their offices are next to one another in East Vancouver. Since they needed volunteers and more importantly, since Lunapads reached out directly to me to help the cause, I knew that I could help out. Back in September, they gave their time to share their social media experiences with a room filled with eager individuals from the education to the non profit world, from the finance to the tech industry, and so and so forth. In a way, volunteering for them was a way to say thank you for their own previous contribution that I had the honour to be a part of.

UGANDA_map

Uganda in Africa: the travel destination

From their story page, “Lunapads [on Twitter: @Lunapads] International is a women-owned and operated social mission-based business based in Vancouver, Canada. Our goal is to help individuals have healthier and more positive experiences of their menstrual cycles, and by extension, their bodies overall. Lunapads' mission is to create more positive and informed relationships between menstruators, their bodies and the Earth. We embrace a global perspective, in terms of well-being and empowerment for women and girls, as well as toward our responsibility with respect to sustainability.” Their mission also include: pad donations, mentoring women entrepreneurs in the community, business community support and volunteerism in action.

The evening was fantastic. Everyone started trickling into the red themed office, and mingled over an extensive food spread including various cheeses, crackers, vegetables, several dips, savory and sweet pastries, chocolate and more. They also had different types of wine being poured throughout the event that had been donated. They had a silent auction in one room in which I even won a pair of Canucks tickets thanks to a kind, anonymous donor - that's the Canucks win I was referring about; talk about highlights! About an hour and a half after the start time, we had the chance to listen to both co-owners along with Shanti Uganda talk about their journey from the beginning until now, their trip expectations and goals. All of the speeches were very touching and heartfelt. They both mentioned and knew ahead that this trip would be life changing when they'd get to see their impact first hand.

Lunapads CoFounders

Lunapads co-founders: Suzanne Siemens (back left) & Madeleine Shaw (front right)

One of the most compelling moments of the night was when Madeleine (On Twitter: @Luna_Diva) spoke to the huddle of volunteers before things kicked off and the message was about being open, friendly, owning a sense of respect and common sense but most importantly, she was conveying her own appreciation towards the group giving back. It was exciting to know that through their trip, they’d be able to meet some of those girls and women that they help through their products. Being there reminded me that as a global internet company, we, too, have to appreciate the fact that our own products can reach and impact anyone in the world. It’s great to be aware that we have strong leaders running terrific social enterprises around us and that makes our city of Vancouver BC that much more vibrant.

As companies like Lunapads continue to grow and expand, we’ll be there watching and supporting some of the various organizations around us, as we remind ourselves that each entity is making its own impact. In the end, we also feel the same way about our customer base. We provide that ongoing support continuously to help everyone around us move forward and we help them be successful.

If you’re interested in following their current trip, you can join them on their Facebook page for photos and latest updates. On a final different note, go Canucks go! I had to throw that in.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru

17Jan/120

EastVanLove Brings Community and Non Profit Organizations Together

As a member of the Vancouver community, our team members enjoy taking time to connect with other locals to see what’s happening around town. As of late, one of our current community related endeavours has been to be more in touch with local non profit organizations to find out what they are currently doing and also, where they are going as we continue to grow our own corporate social responsibility efforts. We find that it’s important to be aware of the great work that is happening around us and in some cases, become an ongoing fan and supporter in certain causes like our recent post on our involvement with the Union Gospel Mission.

#EastVanLove Tweetup Poster

Last month, one of the interesting and moving tweetups called EastVanLove (@EastVanLove), hosted by at the Hood (@thehood604), was exactly related to those specific topics: non profit organizations and volunteerism. Each organization spoke about their involvement in the East side of Vancouver, their community building, the positive impact that they strive for, and how the community can get involved. The event itself included some time for networking, a panel that shared highlights about their organizations in a quick five-minute presentations and some time for questions and answers. The diverse line up included the following 6 speakers and to make things easier to connect with them, I added their sites and Twitter handles.

  1. Peter Wrinch (@pwrinch) from Pivot: http://www.pivotlegal.org/ / @pivotlegal
  2. Caroline MacGillivray from Beauty Night Society: http://beautynight.org/ / @beautynight
  3. Dave MacDonald (@davemacdonald) from Reach Multicultural Family Centre: http://www.reachcentre.bc.ca/ / @REACHCHC
  4. Diane Roberts from urban ink productions: http://urbanink.ca/ / @urbaninkVan
  5. Harsha Walia (@HarshaWalia) from DTES Women’s Centre: http://dewc.ca/
  6. Fen Hsiao from Potluck Café: http://potluckcatering.com/ @potluckcafe

Today over lunch, I had the honour and privilege to catch up with Dave MacDonald, from Reach Multicultural Family Centre, to revisit this event and talk in more depth about volunteerism and their current projects. One of his interesting points on volunteerism is that, in his opinion, there are two types of volunteers: 1) those who want to offer their skills or expand their current skills and 2) those who want to do good deeds for the community putting aside the emphasis of any particular skills.

For example, an accountant could decide to help out people by providing free tax help while another volunteer could decide to volunteer for a different project that requires little experience or very little expert skills. Through our conversation, he shared a recent example where a potential volunteer wanted to help out his organization with their own values in mind, however, the skill potentially offered wasn’t what his organization needed at the time. Therefore, what the volunteer could offer and what the organization needed, wasn’t the right fit in the end.

As a prospective volunteer, you must approach any non profit organizations like any other interviews where you might want to do a bit of research ahead of time to find out if your own skills would be something that the organization at hand needs in the first place. You must be able to fill a need and ideally, your own ideas and values will match with theirs.

As a non profit organization, it’s important to understand what current needs are needed, so that when a volunteer comes knocking on your door, you must be ready to communicate what kind of support could be used. From Dave’s point of view, he’s seen over the years that it is sometimes difficult for non profit organizations to turn down volunteers.

The conclusion is that when it comes to volunteering, there needs to be a clear match between what the volunteer can offer and what the non profit organization needs. There are so many great organizations around the Vancouver area and the people in it like Dave make it that much more exciting and vibrant to be a part of our community.

In the future, I’ll continue sharing our own support and involvement with our community and also, how some of our own customers take great pride in doing the same. If you know of any great other non profit organizations whom we should talk to, please leave us a comment below.

You can also read more thoughts on this past event via the Vancouver Observer’s article by Kelly Marion, Stephanie' Chua’s Storify story and/or the picture stream and keep up with the organizers including Ajay Masala Puri (@masalapuri), Kimberley Ong (@kimieong) and Stephanie Chua (@steph_chua) to find out about their upcoming events.

Until then, whether you’re an individual or an organization, you should consider taking some time to give back as much as possible.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru

1Nov/110

Let’s Bring GiveCamp (@GiveCamp) to Canada!

I was tweeting with a fellow Vancouverite about an annual weekend-long volunteering event called Givecamp that occurs internationally over 15 cities. This year, the event occurred during October 21-23rd. You can follow the latest news and updates on Twitter at @GiveCamp.

What is GiveCamp?

Here's an overview of what this organization accomplishes: "GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, and database administrators donate their time to create custom software for non-profit organizations. This custom software could be a new website for the nonprofit organization, a small data-collection application to keep track of members, or a application for the Red Cross that automatically emails a blood donor three months after they’ve donated blood to remind them that they are now eligible to donate again. The only limitation is that the project should be scoped to be able to be completed in a weekend."

Who should care about this event?
If you are a software developer, designer, database administrator, a project manager or even a social media consultant, you could donate some of your time for a cause that you believe in. Every event is run slightly differently, however, I was able to attend the closest one in the Pacific Northwest at the Seattle GiveCamp (@seattlegivecamp). The first night on Friday, as a volunteer, you had the chance to listen to 17 non profits go over their missions and their needs. For example, a lot of them needed website redesign, one wanted a social gaming app (one of the most rigorous project requiring the biggest team), others needed e-commerce tools added on, and some even needed some social media marketing support. The non profits ranged from health to food, from music to books and it went on. As unique as each individual is, there was a cause for everyone.

More on the agenda and event format
In the following two days, some volunteers taught some workshops throughout the day including: WordPress 101, Social Media 101 for Non Profits (which yours truly co-taught), SEO 101 for Non Profits, Using Microsoft Access Databases, and Salesforce.com/CRM for Non-Profits. In tandem, the software developers, designers, database administrators, and project managers worked in nearby conference rooms around the clock from Friday at 6 pm through Sunday at 4:30 pm when the project hand-off occured. It was a very long and fulfilling weekend to say the least.

Why should you care?
Around the office, we still talk about community very much, like during Social Media Week Vancouver or during Startup Day, and we feel that it's important to inform the rest of the community of other great events happening "close" by to home. While each of us continues to become busier and busier throughout our days and weeks, it's important to step back and think about non profits and the other organizations who are trying very hard to promote their own communities through sometimes, means that are more difficult than wanted.

Spotlight on Music for Life also known as "The African Childrens Choir."
Dawna, the Donor Relations Coordinator, was on sight and drove all the way down to Seattle from Langley to be part of this weekend. Her project workplan was to re-deploy her website using CMS and while we can all read the WIKI notes, the most amazing part is to view the before-design and most importantly, the amazing after-design work. I had the chance to chat with her about social media and it was very enjoyable to drop some Canucks commentary during my social media workshop with her. Her organization made a great effort to attend, and other volunteers like myself, cared very much to give back some of our time to the community at large. If you are interested in this local organization, you can follow them on Twitter at @acchoir or on Facebook at African Children's Choir.

As that recent conversation over Twitter came up, it would be great if Vancouver could also join this movement next year and be the first GiveCamp in Canada. Why not? On the other hand, which are your favorite non profits to follow and/or be involved with around here?

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru