Keeley Hodge, Independent Consultant/Canada
Every year through Rodan + Fields’ Prescription for Change program, Independent Consultants from the U.S., Canada and Australia are selected to participate in a life-changing Change Maker trip, during which participants perform community service alongside the young people working with PFC’s partner organizations. This April, Canadian Consultant Keeley Hodge was one of 89 Consultants selected from hundreds of applications to take part. But Keeley’s journey to “do good” didn’t start with the Change Maker trip to Toronto… it was just one more inspiring experience on her journey.
“This past November, I had one of the most heart-warming opportunities of my life when I volunteered for WE Day Vancouver,” says Keeley. “I never knew that 15,000 students from across British Columbia could inspire me to do more.” WE is PFC’s partner organization in Canada. Among many other initiatives, WE Charity partners with communities in Canada and around the world to provide families with the education, skills and tools to lift themselves out of poverty. WE Day is an annual celebration of the WE movement – the “Academy Awards for real people who are making a difference” – and it fills stadiums around the world with millions of people including change makers, world-renowned speakers, award-winning performers, young people and families.
“When I was listening to various stories, I heard a key underlying component… most felt like their voices were not being heard,” explains Keeley. “As I listened to them, I started to think about how I can help make an impact through my voice and their passions so their voice can be heard. Because when people listen, the world changes, and it can’t happen without us working together,” she says.
Keeley put what she learned and what she felt from WE Day into action and applied for the 2019 Change Maker trip to continue to make a difference. She was selected from hundreds of applicants to attend the Change Maker trip in Toronto in April and, again, the experience exceeded her expectations. “I didn’t know I would be so impacted by this experience. Not only by my fellow Change Makers but our youth who are making so many positive changes and standing up for what they believe,” says Keeley. “From start to finish, this year’s Change Maker trip was a life changing experience. I felt so extremely blessed to do it alongside ten incredible givers from across Canada who instantly bonded as though we had been friends for life!”
During the Change Maker trip in Toronto, Keeley says the group participated in a variety of experiences and activities with students and volunteered at the Good Shepherd Ministries, a centre that provides rehabilitation care, food, shelter and clothing to those in need. “I was the 2,660th volunteer to walk through the door this year and it was truly a remarkable experience I will never forget,” she recalls.
Past Change Makers have echoed Keeley’s sentiments about the impact of meeting the kids, and working side-by-side on important issues facing the world. “One day was a hands-on experience with middle school students from Brampton, a Toronto suburb, helping them plan a WE Walk for Water to raise funds for clean water for those in India. They also got to build their own bee boxes to take back to their school to teach others about this important project.” Keeley says. WE students take part in the WE Incubation Hub, a program through which young social entrepreneurs are empowered to use their voices and skills to make a difference, and the bee boxes were an extension of the winning project (The Solitary Bee Project) from 2018. “Her [the winner’s] social mission is to raise awareness by building bee boxes for nature’s most important pollinators: the solitary bee, which is facing extinction. By building bee boxes, the solitary bee has a safe place to lay their eggs, and with the partnership with the Toronto Parks Board, these boxes are being placed on trees through various city parks,” explains Keeley.
Change Maker trips are about giving back and showing support for people in need. But most participants agree that the event changes them for the better, too. “After spending two unforgettable days at WE, mentoring some pretty amazing kids, my life has changed,” says Keeley. “The world needs more LOVE… and I plan to do my part by raising awareness and giving back where I can. I know I can’t change the world, but I can help by doing the small things that add up and make an impact.”
Community service is at the core of Rodan + Fields’ organization, and the opportunity to volunteer side by side with teammates and colleagues is not one Keeley, or any Change Maker, will soon forget. Keeley encourages, “Just do it! Volunteer and #DoGood in your community. This is a once in a lifetime trip that wraps a ribbon around your heart! The friends, the experiences and the comradery has changed my life! I urge you all to apply next year! I would do this all over again in a minute if I could!”