10 Hearts / April
Celebrating Kitestring’s 10th Anniversary
April / Jill Anderson
My name is Jill Anderson and I have been the Project Manager at Kitestring since June 2017. My name is also “Firefly” and I have been helping girls be everything they want to be as a Guider with Girl Guides of Canada since 2008. Currently I am a Guider with the 38th Oakville Pathfinder unit with girls aged 12 – 15.
Give a brief overview of the project/initiative you chose.
This year, our Pathfinders chose a service project with international and environmental value by collecting and weaving milk bags into sleeping mats for people without beds. Through the Guiding team at the Mississauga Girl Guide House and partnering with Milkbags Unlimited, we collect, cut and weave milk bags to produce a thick, UV resistant sleeping mat which can last for 15 years. Some mats stay in Canada, however the majority ship to nations after a natural disaster such as the earthquake in Haiti. During transit, the mats protect donated medical equipment and supplies. Upon arrival, they distribute the mats to those who need a bed.
Why did you choose your project?
Building milk bag mats with my Pathfinder Unit achieves three important goals: improves living conditions for homeless people, reduces landfill waste and empowers girls to plan and achieve their goals. The girls love this program because they can make a difference without asking anyone for money. They take a leadership role in collecting bags in their schools, sports teams, faith organizations and families. Finally, the girls love making the mats because it’s always a fun night when they can work hard on the mats, sing campfire songs or listen to music and chat!
What would people be surprised to learn about your initiative?
Our girls collected over 2,500 bags over 6 months. They will divert about 3 garbage cans from our landfill and will create 4 sleeping mats for people without beds. Kitestringers saved their bags and made great suggestion on how to collect them. Some of our clients even collected for us too.
What did you learn by having this be your part of the 10 Hearts Celebration?
The main learning of this project was teaching the Pathfinders a valuable tool we use at Kitestring: in order to achieve a goal we need strategy and tactics. Back in November the girls set a “SMART” goal to make 4 milk bag mats in March, but by January they had only collected 200 bags. So, we pushed out our date to May and developed a strategy and tactics including collection boxes and a communications plan. Within 2 weeks after we launched the plan, the girls began collecting 150 bags per week. They were amazed with the improved results!
What have you learned most about your community in the 10 years Kitestring has been open?
Working at Kitestring in Hamilton allows me to see both the struggles and success through the renaissance of the city first hand every day. Generations of my family lived or worked in Hamilton in various positions including hotel owner, butcher, haberdasher, teacher, lawyer and jeweller. My dad was devastated when forced to leave the steel industry, but my mum retired from her nursing career in the growing health sciences industry. So, working at Kitestring in Hamilton’s creative industry is really exciting as we enable our clients to make Hamilton a healthier and more vibrant community.
What have you learned about yourself while being part of Kitestring?
Nearly a year into Kitestring, I’ve learned that even though I am the project manager (a very numbers and analytical person), I am no less creative than the rest of the Kitestringers – just in a different way. The other 9 Kitestringers are creative in terms of solving a client’s problem using design, copy, art, colour, form, site mapping, coding etc. I am creative in solving problems in terms of identifying, mapping and analyzing numbers or data to develop solutions using process flow diagrams, value engineering, risk management using Excel, Gantt charts etc. While my solutions are nearly as engaging as the rest of the team, we love sharing successful outcomes.
Working at Kitestring is really rewarding. We have a super team of people who inspire me everyday with their craft. The 10 Hearts program is a great way to share our interests and passions with each other, the Kitestring ecosystem, the Hamilton community and now internationally with our milk bag mats!