In 4REAL Vancouver, Sol Guy brings Eva Mendes to his hometown to connect with community advocate Liz Evans and the Portland Hotel Society. Liz and her 200-person staff at the Portland Hotel Society are on the frontlines of lending dignity and stability to the lives of people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood overwhelmed with homelessness, addiction and disease. “No one chooses to be here. I could give you a million stories about how people ended up here, all of them tragic and most of them heart-wrenching,” Liz says.
The Portland Hotel Society’s unique blend of services include housing, food, drop-in resource centers, needle exchange, North America’s only safe-injection site, dental care and even an art gallery where artists from the area can showcase their work. Sol and Eva experience all these projects first hand and connect with a community of people most often ignored by society. During the day, Eva helps out in the Portland Hotel’s kitchen and at night joins volunteers to collect used needles in alleys.
Spending time with the individuals at PHS and listening to their life stories, both Eva and Sol begin to understand and appreciate their reality—both their pain and will to survive. ”I’ve completely been educated,” Eva says. “We can’t look the other way nor should we look the other way.”
In a neighborhood like this, celebrations are especially welcome and necessary. Before Eva returns home, she spends a day helping out at the grill at a blow-out barbecue in Downtown Eastside's Pigeon Park including a concert by punk legends, D.O.A.
ACTIVATE YOURSELF WITH UNIVERSALGIVING!
4REAL connects individuals with people, projects and tools to make change real. Aspects include a global online community, online tools for change, 4REAL Productions, and educational materials.
The lead 4REAL production is a TV series called 4REAL that takes celebrity guests on adventures around the world to connect with young leaders who, under extreme circumstances, are effecting real change on some of the most pressing issues of our time. Celebrity guests for Season One are Cameron Diaz, Mos Def, Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Casey Affleck, K'NAAN, M.I.A., and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Beyond the exposure that 4REAL provides, the young leaders featured are partners in the show, with 50 percent of the proceeds going directly to their initiatives. 4REAL has aired globally on National Geographic Channels International in 165 countries and 34 languages, as well as on The CW channel in the U.S. and on CTV and MTV in Canada.