It was the middle of the night. An ambulance was racing down a street through the downtown core of Jerusalem with sirens blaring and paramedic personnel frantically working. A pregnant patient in the back of the ambulance had just delivered a baby. There was silence. In a chaotic moment of emergency CPR, the baby finally started crying and everyone shared in a moment of pure elation. One of the paramedics in the ambulance was third-year kinesiology student Zeke Blumenkrans.
Three days before this moment, Blumenkrans had found out that his very good friend — whom he had met whilst volunteering at the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice — had passed away from cancer. As he sat in the emergency room parking lot listening to Elton John and completing paperwork, Blumenkrans tried to make sense of his last few days.
“I definitely felt that there was something there. There’s no way something like that just happens three days after my close friend passes away. I decided to use the pain as fuel to create something awesome,” Blumenkrans said.
After returning to Vancouver from Israel, Blumenkrans and a newly built team planned an event called Grooving for Kids to pay tribute to his recently lost friend. With over 150 attendees, more than $2,500 dollars were donated to the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. From that moment onward, “it took a life of its own” and Generocksity was born.
Today, Generocksity continues to be led by a team of UBC students. It is a registered non-profit organization that has hosted several large-scale events to raise money for a variety of noble causes, including the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. In Blumenkrans’ words, “we realized that we could engage our generation into doing philanthropic and charitable events while not compromising their wallets or their busy schedules.”
The unique part of Generocksity continues to be the diversity of places from which members of the organization draw inspiration. “It is so easy to get caught up in your own world.” explained marketing Vice-President Maya Zwang. “I needed something outside of all the stress that was actually going to make an impact.”
For Generocksity chairwoman Vivian Braithwaite, the spark came from the inherent challenge behind hosting an event.
“I honestly just wanted to see if we could actually make a difference,” Braithwaite said. “Every time we go and make our donations, we see the impact that our work has and it drives our team to the next event.”
At each Generocksity concert, the philanthropic focus changes so that donations are made to several worthwhile organizations, opposed to just a single charity. Their coming event on Saturday October 18 — Good Deeds and Dirty Beats — will aim to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House, which is an organization that lies close to Zwang’s heart. In her words, “every time I do an event, I become more connected and more passionate.”
The Generocksity model involves throwing parties with great musicians at local venues to raise awareness and inspire philanthropy amongst students in an approachable and affordable manner.
“Raising money is almost an aside to the main idea. You can go out, let loose, have a couple drinks with your friends and dance while also helping kids at the Ronald McDonald House”, says Blumenkrans.
The social landscape of university often forces its students to compartmentalize their own lives. Whether you are volunteering, cramming for exams or celebrating the fact that you survived another week at UBC, these compartments are rarely mixed. Generocksity actively invites you to break down these walls and combine aspects of your social life and education with your passions. Their philosophy is well-expressed in their mission statement: Generocksity strives to “engage our generation not only to the importance of philanthropy, but to show them how accessible it can be.”