Student video about homelessness goes viral

Okanagan College students video for Inn from the Cold Kelowna hits a home run.

  • May. 10, 2014 8:00 a.m.

Experience may trump youth in many instances but for two Okanagan College students their fresh ideas and resourcefulness resulted in a social media home run for a local charity.

Kelly and Arianne

Okanagan College business administration students Kelly Stone and Arianne Summach started working with Inn from the Cold Kelowna as part of an assignment for their Social Entrepreneurship class.

“The idea was to bring the importance of community service into the students’ education and show them how their skills can also benefit the not-for-profit sector,” says Okanagan College business professor Dr. Sheilagh Seaton.

The students in Dr. Seaton’s class were able to choose from a number of proposed community projects but Stone and Summach chose to work with Inn from the Cold to promote its upcoming fundraiser Push to End Homelessness on June 14 because they felt the organization’s needs matched their expertise in marketing.

Instead of simply promoting the event details — an Amazing-race style shopping cart challenge — the students decided to take a different approach and bring a human face to homelessness. To do that they decided to make a video featuring formerly homeless people talking about how it felt to be homeless.

“We wanted to make an emotional connection between the viewers and the video’s subjects,” says Stone.

One snag, the students didn’t know how to produce a video. But instead of going in a different direction or giving up, they advertised for a donation of video services via Castanet. In no time, local production house Render Digital Media volunteered to make the video with them. Once the video was complete, Stone and Summach created an aggressive social media campaign for the weeks leading up to the Push to End Homelessness event.

“It’s been gratifying to apply what we learned in class to something tangible and actually take a step toward changing people’s perspective on homelessness,” says Stone.

So far, the inspiring video has been a tremendous success. It has had more than 3,000 views, which is more than double what Inn from the Cold’s social media efforts have produced in the past. What’s more, the students created a social media tool kit and cheat sheet for Inn from the Cold to use in their marketing efforts going forward.

“We’re a small, grassroots, volunteer-based organization and Okanagan College students bring different and often cutting-edge skill sets that we don’t have in house,” says Inn from the Cold executive director Tara Tschritter.

“The Push to End Homelessness video got picked up by mass media outlets and has resulted in a huge increase in social media traffic,” she says.

Summach and Stone were just one of 15 groups of Okanagan College business students participating in projects with community organizations. Each project required 30 hours of time and ranged in scope from marketing and human resources to technical evaluations and strategic resources planning.

Watch the Push to End Homelessness video here:

For more information on Inn from the Cold’s Push to End Homelessness event on June 14, visit


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