Did you know that in Toronto alone, 1 in 4 children live in a low income household? How about the fact that 32% of children aged 0-5 are living in complete poverty? I bet you also didn’t know that 40% of these families are headed by a single mother.
If you’re sitting there in complete awe over these statistics, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one! These statistics were the basis of my drive and motivation to create my own charity back in 2013, as well as my chosen platform as Miss Teenage Ontario. I can proudly say that for the past few years, I’ve helped to relieve parents of their financial burdens regarding an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy and have helped to eliminate the stigma surrounding single parenting.
What is my charity?
My charity is called Diapers 4 Smiles; a non-profit organization that put’s members of the community at ease when experiencing financial hardships. This is done through offering an open closet service full of bottles, clothes, diapers, toiletries and more and are available to them at all times. As a charity, we believe in not asking these parents why they need the assistance, but rather, what else can we do to improve their current quality of life.
I’ve also partnered up with the Vita Centre; an organization committed to providing for pregnant and parenting woman in Peel, to broaden my horizons a little bit more. The Vita Centre is the lucky recipient of 90% of my donations and I am honoured to announce that I have become apart of their family. A few months ago, I became aware of the centre’s dire need for diapers and wipes and decided that I was going to be the person to change that. So, I put my planning skills to good use and hosted a few events amoungst my family and friends. Next thing I knew, I had people from all over the GTA offering me diapers, wipes and other children’s items. It was humbling to see how much other people were willing to help. Thanks to everyone’s assistance, I managed to collect over 100 boxes of diapers, which filled an entire school bus, and was able to personally deliver them to the Centre.
Growing up in a family with 2 parents who were always able to give me far beyond my basic essentials, I am not able to tell you that I know first hand what it is like to experience these types of hardships. I can however, tell you that I have grown up in a family that has taught me to always give to others who have less than I do. From a very young age, I was found giving away gifts rather than receiving them at Christmas, or visiting local shelters on a rainy day instead of watching TV. I’ve seen and learned how difficult life can be for some people, and have vowed to change that.
In this given situation, my heart breaks for the children with diaper rashes and infections simply because of their parents financial standings. It is crucial to remember that children are not in these situations by choice, but by birth; thus, I have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that they receive the same kind of care and opportunities as I had as a child.
Giving The Crown a Voice
You’ll probably hear me talk about how I wish to “give my crown it’s own voice” quite often. No, I’m not crazy and don’t literally mean that I wish to have it speak. But rather, I intend on using the crown to advocate for the causes that I feel the most passionate about. So of course, I have used my Miss Teenage Ontario title to do just that. However, my goal was not so much to start a huge collection this time. Instead, I wanted to share the significance of the cause with younger generations and empower them to want to make a difference. As discussed in a previous blog called “Role Model Status“, you can see that I participated in an ambassadorship program that encouraged girls to find creative means of collecting diapers. From online photo contests to lemonade stands, these girls did a fantastic job! At the end of the program, I crowned one girl the “Charity Ambassador” and will be bringing her on board to help me and my endeavours for the next year. In doing so, I will teach her what it takes to run a charity, who we can help and how she too can be a change maker. I’ve also attended several Vita Centre events including the Trivia Night that I blogged about and have visited the centre a few times. By visiting the centre, I am given the opportunity to see exactly who my donations are going to and get a sneak peak at what they need the most without asking. This way, I can gear my next collection in the right direction.
I can only dream of being Miss Teenage Canada and giving a voice to that crown as well. I would again, like to continue to advocate for the cause and with my collections. More specifically, as Miss Teenage Canada, I feel as though I will have the opportunity to carry my charity’s mission across the country. Rather than just helping those of my community, I want to be able to learn about what kind of financial burdens people of other provinces are experiences, and help them as well. By hosting more ambassadorship programs and learning about other people’s needs, I’ll be able to assist a wider range of individuals and have more hands to help me do so.
Who know’s what this upcoming week will bring, but what I do know is that I’ve been able to make a huge impact on my community thus far, and will continue to do so even after my reign is over. I would LOVE to be able to share my mission with more people and can only hope that I’ll be given the opportunity to do so. Everyone experiences hardship at some point in their lives, so be sure to support them because you never know when you’ll need it too!
Michela P. <3