In My Opinion: As pandemic drags on remember that volunteering and doing good for others helps everyone

The Beach PIck-Me-Up event was held on Sept. 20 to help lift community spirits and clean the beaches of litter. Event co-host HGTV’s Tiffany Pratt and her dog Poppy, event co-host Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford, and residents Dora Attard, Mira and children Yasmina, Mattias and Elyanna were among those taking part in the event. Photo by Alan Shackleton.

By BRAD BRADFORD

COUNCILLOR, WARD 19 BEACHES-EAST YORK

As this pandemic wears on and we’re staring down a potentially difficult fall season, I’ve been reflecting on some of the positives of this past summer. Something that stands out is the energy the community has put into giving back.

There are too many incredible causes and initiatives to mention but after the Beach Pick-Me-Up event I hosted with local celebrity Tiffany Pratt in late September, I feel the beach clean ups are the perfect example.

The Beach Pick-Me-Up was centred on the idea that giving back to others can be a way of giving back to ourselves.

Sometimes it’s taboo to talk about how volunteering and doing ‘good’ is actually something that can benefit us as individuals. But I hope that the pandemic has shown us that there are many mental health benefits to supporting the people and environment around us.

That’s exactly what I’ve seen as City Councillor in the last several months. Since COVID started affecting our daily lives in March, the outpouring of support has been overwhelming. I received hundreds of calls and emails from folks looking to help with the response, food banks were overwhelmed with donations, and you could hear the support for our frontline from the porches, balconies and windows at 7:30 p.m. every night.

The recent Beach Pick-Me-Up was an invitation to keep this kind of giving back top of mind as a self-care option.

The spirit of volunteerism and community engagement already runs deep in our community. For many of you, picking up litter as you walk down the boardwalk is just instinct. At the Beach Pick-Me-Up, I was glad to see many parents and grandparents of young children coming out to help clean up the beach and make sure our future leaders build the same – and better – habits!

As many of you know, we’ve been working hard as a community to address higher than normal amounts of garbage at the beach with more people spending time outdoors. A few months back I was teased on a radio show about my passion for the litter situation when I was working hard to get City staff to come out with more bins and increased enforcement for litter louts. The garbage is about so much more than the cigarette butts or plastic water bottles left on our beautiful beach. It’s about our shared values and, from an environmental standpoint, our shared future.

I encourage anyone who’s passionate about these issues to get involved with groups like Plastics Free Beach Toronto’s regular clean-ups, Beaches Reduces efforts to tackle all kinds of waste, or any number of initiatives out in the community.

For everyone feeling frustrated, tired, or just totally over the pandemic, I encourage you to reach out and consider the way you can give back to others to give back to yourself.

 


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