Affectionately known as Star Wars Day, May the Fourth has become the Christmas for inner geeks everywhere. My sons and I will be traveling to Disney World for the Social Media Moms Celebration and fellow travellers will witness us in a couple of stormtroopers and Rae costumes!
Many of our readers know that I have struggled with depression in the past, and somehow this winter has been harder than most. Today I gave myself gentle permission for some self care and set out to fix the winter beauty rut.
There have been many times over the years when I’ve wanted Elsa’s powers. Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could build a whole mansion with the flick of a hand like Disney’s Frozen star? Or maybe master a project that’s a tad less extensive – like tiling a floor, using a jigsaw or hanging a light fixture. There are thousands of people across the country who need housing, live in poverty and feel isolated. The power of community and charity can not only transform not only the individuals in need, but also empower the people who want to help others. There are problem-solving women across Canada who can help while working as a team and developing construction skills in the process. The women build with Habitat for Humanity does just this. Perfection!
What family doesn’t want simple, decent and affordable housing? As an ambassador and fan of Procter & Gamble, I have been asked to represent UrbanMommies and put together a team of women in the Vancouver area to build a home! The program is part of a three year partnership totalling $900,000, that will see P&G support Habitat’s family home builds throughout the county, on behalf of its Household Needs brands such as Tide, Swiffer and Mr. Clean. This year there are builds happening in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and approximately 350 new builds are expected across Canada in 2014.
After a group of ten women (and any UrbanDaddies who wish to help) participate in a build in Richmond in September, P&G will offer cleaning kits to Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help ready the newly built homes for move-in once construction is complete, and will provide welcome baskets packed full of household products to each family moving into their new Habitat home. I am going to try to slip in a few Rainbow Loom treasures from my kids in as well. Because every new home needs some of those.
Habitat for Humanity is a special charity, and I love that one hundred percent of all administrative and fundraising costs are paid for by the operation of nine ReStores in the lower mainland. It’s great when not a dime is wasted.
So… Do ya wanna build a house? Join our team in September for a one-day build! Learn new skills, bond, help others, and be a community. Because love is an open door. (You didn’t think I’d let the Frozen theme go that easily did you?) All Women Build photos provided by Habitat for Humanity.
As my readers know, this is a magazine – not a blog. From time to time I (as the publisher) feel the need to pontificate. (Hopefully with wit and good grammar.) Hold your tongue – you readers with hefty English degrees.. This one is ‘on being an ambassador’ (and I’m one for writing like I speak).
I was invited to an overview of P&G products. Having been a McDonald’s All-Access Mom I know what it means to align yourself with a brand. (Insert nail biting here). You must know everything about the company and it’s practices – often more than the employees or executives. You must field questions via social media, be honest on camera and willing to put in 14-hour days. You must be an investigative reporter with discerning questions (without being kicked out of the program entirely – for what good would that do?).
I admit that I hesitated. The McDonald’s experience was more than I had bargained for and yet I discovered a company and culture that were incredible. And then I was asked to be a P&G Mom. Who was I to demerit another ‘huge’ company based on rumour and social media pressure? But the term ‘ambassador’ has certain responsibilities. I agreed to see what they had to say. I knew that given my experience, I was able to ask the right questions. I was willing to take the social media heat.
So I went. And I am so thrilled I did. Of course I’m a ‘Four Season’s girl (they hosted it there) and love trying new products (which many of us have donated and have been sent to Hurricane Sandy victims in New York with the help of Coach USA). But there was more. More good. More positive.
The executives I spoke to about toxicity and environmental responsibility emailed me back the next day (on a Saturday) with specific answers. The PR folks were proactive in addressing my concerns. Other executives from Proctor and Gamble delved into my mind, looked into my eyes over dinner – and they REALLY wanted to know how I felt about… laundry – not just their laundry products. I felt as if I could make an impact. If I am honest, open and transparent – when I bring concerns from my readers to the appropriate people – perhaps I / we can help guide the direction of the company. I really believe this is what P&G had in mind with the program.
On the big day of the conference, P&G hired a moderator to get feedback from real moms on so many of their products. That’s corporate responsibility. That’s smart. (It also gives them a huge savings on big-idea consulting.). When the McDonald’s executives discussed their program over dinner with the 4 moms involved in the All-Access program, I certainly felt as if we had made an impact. The CEO took handwritten notes. He asked a hundred questions. (And only a portion of our feedback was positive. But they didn’t want to hear the positive stuff.) They wanted the moms’ perspective on what needed to be changed to make them a better company. They know what they do well. They want to be better. And as true ‘ambassadors’, we were in a position to tell them.
That’s what an ‘ambassador’ means. You need to know more about the company than most of the employees. And be willing to be smart and mature on social media. You need to think outside the box. To seriously consider negative feedback from social media and take a risk to get the real answers. You need to meet the people behind the company – the chemists and farmers and salespeople. This is why companies are paying attention to Mom ambassadors. That is what will propel the profession and help the public connect with the brands. And that is why any time we agree to the role of ‘ambassador’, it is a big job. A big responsibility.
From what I have heard and read so far, I am very much an ambassador. But I chose to get my BA in theatre and politics – not in chemistry or sales – and I cannot learn all of these arts in a few days. So I invite all of my readers – just as I did as a McDonald’s All-Access Mom – to ask questions. You know more than I do about your own experience as a Mom and a professional – and as an ambassador, I am simply a conduit to extracting honest and relevant answers. We’re all parents. We all want healthy, happy kids. Ask me. I assure you I will get the answers. That’s what an ambassador does.