Breathing Freely

Thanks for checking out my brand new blog, I will be incorporating content from previous versions of my blog soon, but this post was more important and has a call to action - if you can, please donate to my GoFundMe campaign to get respirator masks to at-risk folks before we have more days with poor air quality.
Yvan Boily

As a person who suffers from Asthma, I have been to the emergency room several times due to air quality, so this summer Monique and I decided we were going to get respiration masks for the four of us. As I was looking at them I realized that four masks at $40 each is a small price to pay to make sure we can breath for a few weeks a year, but it’s unachievable for alot of people who are living with the affordability crisis in Vancouver. There are cheaper, disposable options, but even those can be too expensive or not enough of a priority for at-risk and homeless folks.

Inspired by posts like this one I decided that I wanted to make sure that homeless and at-risk folks have access to masks in my community. Every bit counts, but when I looked at how much I could personally commit to this, and the cost of buying masks, I realized that there had to be a better way to help out. Having seen so many crowdfunding campaigns, and buying products through them on Kickstarter and other platforms, and donating to several over the years, I decided to explore the different platforms and run a campaign to raise money. While researching this, I realized it wasn’t enough to get money to buy a large volume of masks, there are logistical challenges to getting them to a large number of at-risk folks, and especially making sure that the folks who need them can get them each day that they need them. I could hand out a few masks, but getting them to people consistently isn’t something I can do myself. I reached out to homeless shelters, and to neighborhood outreach groups, and started to build a small network of people who can help to distribute them – it turns out there is a recognized need for this, with just one group expressing a need for 200 masks to help the folks they will work with over the summer.

I did some research and found a bunch of options for acquiring low cost, single use, vented respirators, and depending on volume can get the price down to as low as $1.10 (the price goes lower, but that’s at the 10K plus units). I settled on the 3M 8511 N95 masks, but may choose a comparable product based on funds raised, and community needs to make sure we help as many people as possible.

A picture of a single use 3M N95 respirator mask

While the idea of buying a pile of single use, mostly synthetic disposable products is not ideal for the environment, they make sense for the folks who will receive them:

  • Low cost, so it is easy to replace them if they are lost, damaged, or stolen
  • Can be used more than once (I have used similar masks for contracting and home renovations)
  • Light, small, and somewhat durable if they need to be stuck in a pocket
  • Vented masks are cooler, which is important during the heat waves that are often the driver for the forest fires causing the problem

Now that I have a way to distribute them, and the means to get the product I need your help – I decided to use GoFundMe as a platform to raise the funds I need to help these people. GoFundMe allows me to withdraw money over the course of the fundraiser rather than a Kickstarter style approach that only allows us to get the money if the campaign is succesful. As of this morning we have raised over $200, which means that the first masks will be ordered in the next couple of days! c, but if you can’t donate there are other ways you can help:

  • Share the campaign on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  • Tell your friends and colleagues about it, especially those who are socially minded
  • Ask me about how you can get involved in starting your own, similar campaign in your own community if people face similar challenges!
  • Work to reduce your carbon footprint and encourage others to be more aware!

Finally, this campaign will be running through the whole summer, and to make sure that these funds go to good use, any extra funds at the end of the campaign will be distributed to the charitable organizations that help out with mask distribution – I will be posting regular updates on the GoFundMe page to provide more information about who these are on that site once we get the masks out to folks!

Thank you so much for your time and effort in helping to promote and raise awareness of this cause!

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