Can you spare two or three hours of your time this coming February?
That’s the question our local Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario office will ask you by telephone one of these evenings this month, or in November.
February will mark Heart and Stroke’s annual Heart Month, and in preparation, community residents are being asked over the phone by local Heart and Stroke staff and volunteers to donate two or three hours during that month to canvass homes in their own neighbourhood to raise vitally important funds for heart disease and stroke research.
Heart and Stroke’s Sault Ste. Marie Area Manager Dan Ingram says: “In February, that’s our month to get knowledge of our programs out to the public, and promote awareness of the risk factors of heart disease and strokes, and collect funds for research that will hopefully in the future prevent heart disease and strokes.”
“We began October 1st to have staff and volunteers calling members of the community to volunteer their time in the month of February. All we’re asking people for is two to three hours any time in the month of February, to go door to door knocking on their neighbours’ doors and collect money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation,” he told SooToday.com. “October and November is our main contact period. We’ll make calls asking people to canvass possibly into early December, and if necessary, again in January, but our hope is to have all of our calls completed by the end of November.”
“We’re asking them to do it in their own neighbourhood, one street, possibly two streets if they’re able to, 15 to 20 houses on one route, so that would be 30 to 40 houses for two routes.”
Ingram emphasizes that, although the commitment is not huge, it is "very, very important.”
He explained that most canvassers bring in approximately $165.
"Our goal is to get a thousand canvassers. If we can get a thousand canvassers, we could potentially raise up to $160,000," he said. "Our goal is actually 126,000 dollars, so if we can get the thousand canvassers, we have a good shot to reach our goal.”
If you say ‘yes’ to canvassing when you’re called, what’s the next step?
“We will follow up by email, phone call or by letter, just to ask them again to confirm their commitment to doing the canvassing," Ingram told us. "Then there will be a training session coming up in January here at our office for those who have never canvassed before, to show them how its done, the questions to ask, what to say when they go door to door to make it easy for them. We’re asking them to go see their neighbours, hopefully they know the people in their neighbourhood well, but even if they don’t, its not a difficult ‘ask’ in most cases.”
“We have a training session for about an hour for one evening, we go over what Heart and Stroke means to people, we talk about the canvasser kit, what’s in it and how to use it. If people can’t make the training session they can go online to our website and access the same training materials that we have in our office.”
“To the canvasser we say if a person isn’t home, we ask the canvasser to go back a second time. This usually takes no more than two to three hours throughout the entire month of February. You could do it all in a weekend, or over three days, an hour here and an hour there. Not a huge commitment, but again, its critical to get awareness of heart disease out there since one in three people dies from heart disease or a stroke. Even a donation as little as $5 goes a long way to hopefully change those numbers.”
Funds raised in February by Heart and Stroke goes to research, and that research has paid off.
Operations for heart disease patients that at one time left a long surgical scar can now be done with a small incision.
“There’s a number of different research avenues over the past 60 years in blood pressure medications that were designed through Heart and Stroke fundraising,” Ingram continued. “Babies can now survive, they can do operations on babies when they’re born to repair a hole in the heart. Those kinds of things were not possible without research funding in the past. We’re hoping with the advent of the genome mapping that we’re going to be able to prevent a lot of heart attacks in the future.”
“Nine in 10 people have at least one risk factor for a heart problem or a stroke. Seven in 10 have a family member, or themselves, that has had an incident with heart disease. One in three will die of heart disease or stroke.”
Clearly the need for research funding is great.
Ingram is positive about this upcoming Heart Month.
“Last year we collected 106,000 dollars in our area, and that was up from 97,000 the year before. That was phenomenal growth for us. If we can maintain up to 15 percent growth this year we can actually get to our goal of 125,000. We’re hopeful of the community’s support, we know Heart and Stroke Foundation is near and dear to many people out there, and we’re hoping they’re going to support us this February.”