The Vision

Ignite the Warmth Society is a grassroots, registered non-profit organization aiming to bring awareness to the issues of homelessness and poverty through three main fronts: facilitate, educate, and communicate. Our goal is to explore how we can begin to eliminate that stigma of homelessness and how students can engage with the issues of poverty that exist in our own neighbourhood.

Five years ago, we started with an idea: what can we, as students, do to make a social impact. As a handful of students, we wanted to involve not only the school, but the community to address the local issue of homelessness. A blanket drive would be our starting point. We, along with the help of the clubs, schools, churches, sports teams, and dedicated individuals across Richmond, raised over 230 blankets and 600 dollars. With this turnout, in our first year, we knew we couldn’t be idle.

5 years later, our organization, now a registered charity, has grown and evolved because of the dedicated people, mostly students, who wanted the idea behind this cause to become a reality.

Our partners have included the Union Gospel Mission, Richmond RCMP, Richmond Cares Richmond Gives, local churches, Save-on-Foods, Canadian Tires, Value Village, Rona, Starbucks, Hootsuite, Kanata Blanket Company and Canadian Springs.

 
 
 
Personally, it has occurred to us how much society has dehumanized the homeless; we walk past panhandlers without a single glance, unaware that we’ve adopted the ‘If I ignore it, the problem isn’t there’ mentality. This sort of ignorance has become our blissful solution.
— Precilia Kong, Co-founder

There are many factors as to why there is such a social gap between the well off, and the impoverished; it's our fear of stepping outside our comfort zone and taking initiative , it's our lack of education on how one falls into the downward spiral of poverty, and simply being afraid of what we don’t understand or can relate to. Our aims for this project is to merely provide the truth, in hopes that the perspectives of many will change through the creation of human relationships. Mainly, our goal is to educate through first hand experience, rather than a set of facts and statistics. We want to eliminate the stigma, the abstract notion that poverty is a global issue, that our help is insignificant, when in fact poverty happens right in our neighbourhood, and that any support of any size is vital towards the eradication of poverty.

It’s uncomfortable to recognise your position of privilege – the kinds we all take for granted. But in doing so, we can discover how we have a platform, a voice, and the tools to make an impact for the better.
— Joanne Li, Co-founder

A few years ago, as I was walking along Gastown, I’d noticed how only a single block divided a bustling tourist neighbourhood from one of the most poverty-stricken postal codes in Canada – a block that hosts both a five-star restaurant as well as needle disposal boxes. This unsettling contrast made me question the origins of divides that are often so arbitrary – and what I could do to challenge it. It made me realize I was born into circumstances where I didn’t need to question my right to an education, to have a roof over my head, or my access to basic health care. With this, some friends and I started the nonprofit charity, Ignite the Warmth, to explore how we could begin to eliminate that stigma of homelessness and how students can engage with the issues of poverty that exist in our own neighbourhood. 5 years later, our organization, now a registered charity, has grown and evolved because of the dedicated people, mostly students, who wanted the idea behind this cause to become a reality. 

 
 

Our Team

The executive committee is composed of 11 dedicated youth from the Richmond & Vancouver community.

 

PRECILIA KONG

President & Co-Founder
4th Year Integrated Sciences (Neuroscience & Foundation of Human Health), University of British Columbia
 

JOANNE LI

External Coordinator & Co- Founder
4th Year English Literature and International Relations, University of British Columbia

Stephanie.png

STEPHANIE LEE

Communications & Marketing Coordinator
4th Year Biology, University of British Columbia
 

 

MATTHEW MAH

Volunteer Coordinator
4th Year Combined Major in Sciences, University of British Columbia

Poverty is a social construct that people use to separate themselves from those they are afraid to know. Those defined as poor then face alienation from society. As an individual’s self-worth can be shaped by interactions in society, this alienation diminishes the self-worth of those in need. We need to tear down these social walls and see people as people. We need to see everyone as someone worth knowing and someone worth listening to.

RICKY GUAN

Financial Coordinator
1st Year Commerce Major, Langara College

Homelessness and poverty have a real cost to society that transcend any individual and we as a society, try to convey that. As a result, we hope that the awareness raised is enough to create a ripple effect in shifting public perceptions and policies to better handle the epidemic at hand.



 

Melissa.png

MELISSA MAH

Human Resources
3rd Year Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Society often views and treats others based on stereotype; with those in poverty in a negative light. This approach is wrong. We are assuming before we are learning.  Ask yourself, what if you were the one faced with poverty? How would you feel if you were judged before you were even heard? If we allow ourselves to listen, learn and understand the challenges faced by those in need, we become a more compassionate society through caring.

 
Becky

REBECCA HUNG

Corporate Relations Coordinator
4th Year Biology Major, University of British Columbia

Daniel.png

DANIEL MERLO

Graphics & Creative Team
3rd Year Electrical Engineering, University of British Columbia

Aurelia.png

AURELIA KONG

Graphics & Creative Team
4th Year Cognitive Systems Major, University of British Columbia

 
Richard.png

Richard Zhen

Financial Coordinator

Denis.png

Denis Aldana

Marketing Team

 
 

Former Members

TianXing Li
Davis Wu
Pratik Bassi