To counter the negativity of the controversial “Only in Surrey” Facebook page, a Vancouver woman has launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at directly assisting troubled residents who may otherwise be mocked online.
Natalie Walsh works in Surrey, and says reading the “Only in Surrey” page, and the comments of some of its over-11,000 fans, made her sad. Walsh wanted to see the people of Surrey stepping in to help troubled locals rather than poke fun of them on the internet.
Last week, Walsh launched an Indiegogo campaign called “For the People of Surrey.” Her mission is to raise money to purchase gift cards for area grocery stores and distribute them to Surreyites who may be going through hard times.
Walsh’s fundraising goal is $22,000. Hoping to find twice as many people who want to help than who want to participate on the “Only in Surrey,” Facebook page, at a dollar donation apiece, Walsh could meet her $22,000 goal.
“$22,000 will buy 880 gift certificates worth $25 each, which will be purchased from local businesses (which sell things like food or household necessities) and handed out in the most needy communities of Surrey,” Walsh explains on her crowdfunding project page.
Walsh tells Vancity Buzz via e-mail that she plans to go out in the low-income areas of Surrey herself to distribute the gift cards, however if she is able to buy a lot of the cards using the donations Walsh wants to get other locals involved.
“I may also reach out to community groups and try to get [the gift cards] into the hands of people I may not see on the street, like low-income families with young kids, and seniors,” she elaborates.
While a gift card may provide a one-time helping hand to Surreyites in need, Walsh has a few ideas on how to improve things in the long run for the community. “I would say raising the minimum wage, providing affordable quality child-care, and making transit safer and more accessible,” are possible solutions, offers Walsh. “Also, as a society we need to start treating each other better and help to take care of each other.”
When it comes to web forums like the “Only in Surrey” Facebook page creates, Walsh isn’t sure why there is so much hate for the community. “I’d like to think that people are frustrated and have gathered together for that reason and for a place to vent,” says Walsh. She continues:
“But a lot of the comments on the page are cruel and hateful towards individual Surrey residents, and I don’t quite understand why so many people would be in support of that. It’s easy to be mean when you’re looking at a computer screen and have other people cheering you on. Surrey also has an unfortunate reputation and I guess there are people who latch onto that.”
There is much to like about Surrey, Walsh believes. Her crowdfunding endeavour could have a dual purpose. In addition to raising money to directly help Surrey residents in need, the campaign could also shed some light on the positive aspects of Surrey.
“Surrey is a vibrant diverse community with amazing people, especially the youth. About a quarter of the population is under 18,” notes Walsh, adding: “The public schools there are wonderful and bursting with community. The city itself has many beautiful parks, facilities and programs. It has everything to offer that any large city does.”
Featured image: Surrey City Hall by CDP Photography Canada/Flickr