Personal Tragedy Becomes a Contest

I always thought we Canadians lived within a caring society but the bottom line is that the fundamental responsibility for helping out the less fortunate and those in need lies within our social safety net. These days however we see the role of taking care of those less fortunate shift into the public forum. I can hardly buy groceries these days without being asked to donate a dollar for this and another for that. Since I shop every day it get a bit tedious but more than that it signals that the government isn't doing a very good job. Then I discovered that it was worse than I ever thought.

For a few Regina families real life took another step closer to the world reality entertainment this week as Rebuilding Dreams is pitting a group of families in desperate need, against each other, in an effort to "win" a house makeover.

In a move that I think is just about as crass as it comes, we are encouraged look on line and read about five families that are all facing very tough personal situations. Then we are asked to vote on line for the family that needs help the most. The last time I looked the Strong family was well into the lead which made me wonder how the Bridal or Nagy or any of the other families must feel.

All five families are facing a daunting struggle to survive within a social service system that is obviously very badly broken. We should be asking ourselves, even within what Brad Wall calls a boom economy, why do so many fall through the cracks.

I am intrigued as to why a community that elects right wing governments that barely maintain services, will support a contest where families have to "out tragedy" each other and ask you to donate on line. Surly, that is kind of like turning personal  hardship into a sport. The Romans were more civilized that that.

Facebook is all a Twitter.

The prize is a big one. The group says the family that "wins" will receive:

A brand new home customized to the family’s needs. The website says their home will be rebuilt and furnished for the family. This will be similar but not quite as extravagant as the popular television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Assuming there are lots of donations the prize pack could also include debt reduction for the family if the fundraising events are as successful as we anticipate.

The family that comes second may, if there is enough money donated, get some basic renovations that will help this family get by for awhile and provide for any of their urgent needs they may have.  

And if their fundraising far surpasses our expectations, the group says they will be providing a renovation package to a third family.

The group is hoping to raise $100,000. There is a very long way to go. So far they have raised $2,785.

Sponsors are lining up to provide goods and service to the family that wins. For example, Urban Sun provide the family with Tanning and Spa Services Package, Jump.ca is providing a couple of cel phones to the family and Group 5 Security will be providing secutity for the site during reconstruction.

It all just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.

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