Former City residents compete for chance to start Vancouver non-profit

  • Feb. 25, 2015 4:17 p.m.

Three former Red Deer residents are looking for votes to help them establish a non-profit organization that aspires to bring clean socks to the streets of Vancouver.

The East Side Sock Club is a non-profit in the making that was conceived by Colin Cej. He had been trying to think of ways to bring his organization to operation when he saw the ad for the Start Something With Alesse contest. At this time, Cej brought in friends Tarah Houge and Julia Kreutz to help him get the ball rolling.

The contest has categories for both non-for-profit and for-profit organizations. People cast votes to keep the ideas in the running, and the winning idea will receive $5,000 and a mentor to help start up the organization.

“Julia and myself run the Gam Gallery in the downtown east side, and Colin works out of the studio as well. Being in the downtown eastside, you see a lot of the problems that the area is faced with. It’s kind of a poorer postal code and we wanted to do something that would give back to the community. This idea was a way that we could combine those things together in a really simple format, and that’s where the socks come in,” said Hogue, communications manager for the East Side Sock Club.

“Socks are something that we all take for granted, but that are sorely lacking for some people in this neighbourhood. In talking with some of the local organizations that work with the residents of the downtown east side, we found that it was needed and we thought we could do something about it.”

The East Side Sock Club would work with local Vancouver artists to create specially designed socks to sell in the community. With each pair of socks sold, a pair of clean, new socks would be donated to organizations in the community that can distribute the socks to people in need.

The three former Red Deerians made it through the first round of voting for the contest.

“I think that this is an idea that supports a number of different communities in Vancouver. Even if you’re not from Vancouver, the three of us involved are all from Red Deer and we are supporting emerging artists but also a community that is at-risk in a number of different ways. It’s as simple as going on facebook and showing us your support by voting.”

Cej had been discussing the idea of the East Side Sock Club with friends for a while before the Start Something With Alesse contest came into focus. He said that he had spoken to friends that had a hand in organizations downtown and that socks were in high demand across multiple organizations.

“People go into warming centres and things, and they show up and all the want to do is get something to eat and grab a fresh pair of socks. Sometimes they are walking outside in the rain all day or for a couple of days. That piece of information led us to where we are now,” Cej said.

He said the desire to give out large quantities of socks worked well with the idea of doing a sock-for-sock campaign as it would help cover the costs of distribution.

“I think that probably the most important part of the campaign is that people who are voting are obviously helping us, but in turn they are voting to show that they understand the issues in the downtown east side and this vote means that they want to see some kind of change in the future,” Cej said.

People can vote daily for the Start Something With Alesse nominees. There are two categories, non-profit and for-profit, and people can vote once in each category per day.

If they were unsuccessful in the competition aspect, the group would still want to carry their idea forward. The team is working on developing community contacts and partnerships so that they may carry the East Side Sock Club further no matter what.

Votes are collected through facebook by searching the ‘Start Something for Alesse’ contest, and then clicking on the page’s contest tab and following links to the voting section. Daily voting is recommended. The next elimination will be announced on March 3rd.