Over the past few months, we have been extremely lucky to collaborate with a talented group of second-year Bachelor of Public Relations’ students at Conestoga College. As part of their program, they were tasked with planning and running successful fundraising events for Reception House. 

Of course, that was no longer possible once COVID-19 came along. 

However, the students didn’t let that stop them from doing amazing work. So, instead of physical events, the class developed digital campaigns for social media in the hopes of earning donations for our organization.

So, how did it go? We’ll let them answer that question! Here are two students who have graciously shared their experience, in their words. 

Taryn B. 

Fundraising is a key aspect of public relations, and when we began our fundraising course for our public relations degree program at Conestoga College, I was eager to learn what organization we would be working with. 

Once we learned that we would be fundraising for Reception House Waterloo Region, I started to learn more about what the community-based organization did. 

I discovered that Reception House strives to create positive conversation and positive transitions into the community for government-assisted refugees. And we knew that our fundraiser should reflect the positive work that they do.

We started to plan a karaoke dance party that focused on raising awareness and funds. We wanted to create an open and inviting space for members of the community, the same way that Reception House does for refugees. We had planned an exciting evening with singing, dancing, desserts, games and a silent auction. 

But then COVID-19 changed the entire world, almost overnight, and we had to change our plans. Everyone involved in the fundraising process knew that we could overcome the challenge presented to us. 

Even though our event was cancelled, the essence of our event could still shine through. We set out to create awareness about the impactful work that Reception House does. And so, we produced a short video about the organization and shared it on social media and with family and friends. We even had the Mayor of Waterloo retweet our video! 

We ended up creating a positive conversation around the work that Reception House does. Despite the uncertain times that the world is facing, we were able to shine a light on positivity. It was an amazing experience, and I learned a substantial amount about how it feels to adapt during difficult times. 

I also learned that supporting Reception House Waterloo Region means supporting hundreds of families in need. I will never forget this experience, and I would urge everyone in the community to learn about and support the work they do. 

Kayla W. 

This experience was a unique one but it was one that taught me so much about both Reception House and about the field of Public Relations. 

Having to shift from planning an event to looking for an alternative for donations and for our assignment is something that took a great deal of adaptation on behalf of Reception House, our professors and our group. We adapted to create videos to explain what Reception House is and what they do for refugees. 

While creating this video I learned far more about Reception House than I think I ever would have by just planning a fundraising event.

It also gave me a way to share what I learned about Reception House with my friends and family in a way that was far more informative than we could have ever conveyed with our event or promotional posts. 

I found that the uncertainty of COVID-19 and having to adapt to the situation we were in is something that has helped me to understand a miniscule amount of what refugees go through when they come to Canada. 

The uncertainty and the adaptation that we went through as a group was only a very small percentage of what refugees face but it was something that I found difficult which gave me a whole new respect for what the refugees that Reception House helps go through. 

This project has made me realize just how many different resources Reception House offers and how valuable those resources can be to help ease some of the transition for refugees coming into Canada as they go through uncertain times and adapting to a new life in a new country.