In 2002, when Hannah Taylor was five years old, she was driving through a Winnipeg neighborhood in her parents car and happened to look out the window and saw something that was became very troubling to her. She saw a man eating out of a garbage can.
At that age, no child can quite get the concept of poverty and homelessness but this event sparked what has been a remarkable five year journey in this young girl's short life. When her mom told her that the man was homeless and was looking for food, she asked her mother a few questions about homelessness and if there was a 'cure' for it.
Later that year, Hannah started going to school. One day while going to school, she saw another homeless person, this time it was a woman pushing a grocery cart along the street with everything she owned in it. After that, Hannah decided that she was going to make a difference.
"That night before I went to bed I wished I could cure homelessness
", Hannah writes on her website. "Everybody needs a home. I love my home. My mom told me that sometimes when you worry and feel sad about things, if you do something to change the problem, your heart won't feel so sad.
So, Hannah decided to put the two things that she was now passionate about together. You see, Hannah just loved ladybugs ... so she created "Ladybug jars". These jars were empty baby food jars that she painted ladybug-red and distributed to people and businesses so that they could collect change for the homeless.
In five short years, Hannah's fund-raising drive has raised an astounding $500,000 for charity and the Ladybug Foundation Inc. she founded has grown into an organization that is spearheading corporate sponsorship, volunteer efforts, homeless advocacy and education.
A large addition to a homeless shelter called the Siloam Mission is being built in Winnipeg. When it's finished, the new 'wing' will have 60 extra beds where men and women with nowhere to go will be able to come in a sleep for the night with a little bt of privacy and dignity. The Government of Canada and two other foundations were the main contributors to the cost of constructing the $900,000 addition, and the Ladybug Foundation made a small financial donation towards the project. In honour or Hannah's advocacy on behalf of the homeless, they are calling the new wing at Siloam, 'Hannah's Place'.
"There's no rational reason why Hannah should be so involved with the homeless
", said John Mohan of the Siloam Mission. "They are quite removed from her economically, sociologically in every respect. She doesn't have family members who are homeless. But these are people who she just has this God-given love for and God-given drive to help however she can.
The efforts of this bubbly, pig-tailed 10-year-old are starting to get recognized. Hannah has been a keynote speaker at Toronto's prestigious Empire Club, and former Prime Minister Paul Martin has congratulated her for what she has done for homelessness in Winnipeg. Next week, Hannah will travel to New York and Sweden to accept awards for her work.
"Maybe I was just meant to care about homeless people like other people were meant to care about the environment and stuff like that
", said the young girl who one day hopes to be Prime Minister of Canada. "Well, everyone has to do something, but I’m really passionate about it and passion is a very serious thing."
She's been quoted as saying: "It's like breathing, it never stops."
There is a video of the Global National's Everyday Hero
segment on Hannah.