A few words of kindness can have a big impact, say the heads of local neighbourhood associations involved in the Cambridge Neighbourhood Organizations campaign Notes of Hope.
Adapted from the Guelph program by the eight neighbourhood associations in Cambridge, volunteers and residents help to create encouraging cards, notes and drawings to send to various organizations within the community.
Some of the cards have been sent to staff at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, St. Luke's Place, Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, and many more. A large bulk of cards are being sent to organizations on Random Act of Kindness Day.
Lauren DaSilva, community engagement coordinator for the Hespeler Village Neighbourhood Association, said the aim of the project is to provide support for those facing isolation and burnout from the pandemic, like healthcare workers and shelter workers.
“These are frontline workers who are experiencing the worst of it all, so we really wanted to make sure our community showed support and make sure that they know that their community cares for them," said DaSilva.
She also points out Notes for Hope is quite accessible for people, as most of what they need to participate can be found at home.
“It’s super simple, people can do it from home and use the materials that they have or pop into one of our organizations and pick up materials,” said DaSilva, “and it was just a way for us to spark joy, and to let people in the community know that we care about them, or that their entire community cares about them.”
“They would take them with them, write the notes and come back and give us the materials, give us the finished products, and as a collective organization, we decided where all these notes were going to.”
Since starting the campaign in mid-January, all associations have received up to 2,000 notes from the community.
“That just speaks to how expansive and how deep rooted in the community our neighbourhood associations are and the ongoing commitment of our volunteers," said Sandra Gammage, community engagement coordinator at Silverheights Neighbourhood Association and with the Preston Heights Community Group, about the amount of notes.
While all eight associations have been working together on this campaign, each one has integrated the program in different ways, like asking people to submit a note through social media.
“Some of us have in-person programming right now with youth volunteers, so youth volunteers were then given the opportunity to do it onsite," said Samantha Esmeralda, marketing and communications coordinator for the CNO and executive director of the Alison Neighbourhood Community Centre.
“We had some staff doing some as well, and then it turned into us writing notes to each other, and now we have notes hanging from our desks now,” said Jessica Krotesch, community engagement coordinator of the ANCC. “That’s not something that would’ve happened if we haven’t been doing this.”
Amanda Horne, the executive director of the HVAA, said she has seen people exhibit a true desire to connect through Notes of Hope.
“We’re in such a digital world that we can do all these very generic messages, and people are just looking for that true desire of connection,” she said.
Other positive benefits from the campaign that all note is the increase of new volunteers at neighbourhood associations and the increased engagement of youth volunteers, many who have expressed positive feelings after creating notes for others.
“I think the beauty about Notes of Hope is that it’s continual, we don’t ever have to stop as long as there’s always that demand and interest within the community.”
Those who are interested in participating in the Notes of Hope campaign can drop notes of encouragement off at their nearest neighbourhood association. To find contact for each association, click here.