Home > AHA Media, April Smith, Citizen Journalism, Community Engagement, Downtown Eastside, DTES, Facebook, Media Coverage, New Media, Social Media, Twitter, UGM, Vancouver, Vancouver Downtown Eastside > Neighbourhood Swatch: How a Downtown East Side Creative Agency is making a difference with a $12,500 Gift of Creative Services to Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver

Neighbourhood Swatch: How a Downtown East Side Creative Agency is making a difference with a $12,500 Gift of Creative Services to Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver

What do a 70 year old gospel mission and a nine-year old creative agency have in common? The Downtown Eastside, for one. Like many of the applied and creative arts agencies in the North end of Vancouver’s poorest postal code, Burnkit Creative is energetic, thoughtful, and not afraid to work alongside the contradictions and contrast of the Downtown Eastside.

So while many businesses were cutting back during the recent economic downturn, Burnkit took a look around their own neighborhood and decided to lend their talent and energy to support a non-profit agency that would in turn help those who have been hit hardest by the recession: the homeless and working poor of the Downtown Eastside. The result was a contribution of $12,500 worth of creative services toward the Union Gospel Mission’s annual Christmas ad and direct mail campaign.

For Union Gospel Mission, Burnkit was a natural fit. “People who work on the Downtown Eastside often have a certain raw edge to their work, and that’s what we were looking for in this campaign,” says Genesa Wheaton, Director of Resource Development at Union Gospel Mission. “Not many businesses would choose to set up shop in the poorest postal code in Canada. That type of entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to become a part of this community are not lost on those of us who live and work on the Downtown Eastside. For a company like Burnkit to literally put their money where their office is and support UGM in a new, unique way is corporate philanthropy in action.”

Burnkit brought that edge into the campaign as they began the creative process with Union Gospel Mission. “We wanted to engage people in a new way, unlike anything else UGM had ever expressed in previous campaigns – and Burnkit was up for the challenge,” explains Wheaton. “We wanted to help Vancouverites rethink homelessness and addiction, and the response we’ve received to date says that it’s working.”

The resulting ads (attached in low-res; high-res available on request) feature photos of people who have used UGM’s services, and are now UGM staff members, appearing confident and offering unexpected comments like, “I wish I was stuck in traffic.”

“We wanted to jar people a little bit, and make them reevaluate their neighbour’s problems – and their own,” says Josh Dunford, Director at Burnkit. “So maybe next time, instead of being upset, they think, ‘Ok, I’m not going to let this traffic jam ruin my day. I’m thankful for what I’ve got. Some people would love to have a car to be warm and dry in, and a job to be going to.’”

“If people truly want to help, this is a great way to make a difference this Christmas,” says Wheaton, “and we’re thankful organizations like Burnkit, and supporters of UGM see the value in supporting those in need at Christmas time.“

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