They’re Brock alumni and Niagara community members, but most importantly, they share the common goal of wanting to make St. Catharines a safe, compassionate and inclusive city.
The year-long social media campaign, #CompassionateSTC, was recently launched by JCI St. Catharines in collaboration with the St. Catharines mayor’s office and several other community leaders and groups.
Twelve community ambassadors were selected to document their own ‘compassionate weekends’ and many of the ambassadors and others behind the movement are Brock University alumni or staff.
Steve Boese (BA ‘06), manager of the Generator at one interactive digital media incubator in St. Catharines, is chair of the awareness campaign. He has been part of more than two dozen community and charity-based projects and is in his seventh year of being a member of JCI St. Catharines, a non-profit organization of young active citizens committed to creating impact in their communities.
After hearing about the compassionate city initiative two years ago at St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik’s inaugural State of the City address, Boese launched a community group that became the backbone of #CompasionateSTC.
Sendzik’s initiative was inspired by Brock Social Justice and Equity Studies student Tim Arnold (BBA ’96) and his views on compassion being the powerful outcome when care and action are combined and the idea that a compassionate city provides dignity, respect and opportunity for all of its residents.
“Looking to make a more macro impact across the city, I felt that using social platforms would be the most feasible way to reach a large audience,” says Boese.
Boese brought together 12 ambassadors with rather large social media profiles and established a year-long social media awareness campaign based on a concept of “learning by doing” by providing visual examples of compassionate acts in the community.
Other Brock alumni ambassadors include Sara Palmieri (BA ’03), Crispin Bottomley (BA ’04, BEd ’05) and Julie Rorison (BA ’10), along with Brock Badgers women’s basketball head coach, Ashley MacSporran, who says she’s looking forward to being involved.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give back to my new city,” says MacSporran. “This is a fantastic way to make a lasting impact on the community in a positive way.”
Jessica Potts of Inspired Communications was the first ambassador in January, where she and her team cast a spotlight on their experiences with compassion and saw a reach of more than 250,000 on social media with more than a million impressions during the first weekend of the campaign.
“The whole concept behind the compassionate city initiative isn’t about what you can do one day a year, but rather the simple things you can do every day to make the city more compassionate and inclusive,” says Boese.
Board member of the Brock University Alumni Association and past-president of JCI St. Catharines, Crispin Bottomley (BA ’04, BEd ’05), hopes this is an initiative other Brock alumni can get behind.
“As Brock students, we saw compassion, inclusion and caring for our fellow classmates,” says Bottomley. “We encourage alumni to take what they’ve learned at Brock, go out into the community and improve it. We get to make decisions throughout our day and we can always choose compassion.”
The community is encouraged to share their stories of how compassion has touched their lives through donating, volunteering or by making small gestures using the hashtag #CompassionateSTC on social media.
For more information about the initiative, visit compassionatestc.ca