Imagine this – you’re working at a grocery store, open late, and a school bus pulls into your lot, near midnight. Out of the bus come dozens of teenagers who do a chant to get each other pumped up, and then find their way into your store.
Within minutes, they fill and pay for several carts of food and then head out, piling back into the bus to be on their way to their next destination, in under 10 minutes.
That’s exactly what can happen when Flash Love has a project, and founder Andrey Ivanov described a project that came together in just that way, just a few months ago, after a team leader saw a girl asking for food. Sometimes it’s difficult to organize events to react to needs that are immediate, but this group finds a way.
“We wanted to know what we could do to respond to the issue,” Ivanov said. “We connected with the elementary resource coordinator, and we asked for information about families who could use some groceries. We got addresses and general descriptions for 22 families and we decided ‘let’s go buy food and distribute it.’”
Pulling an all-nighter, fueled by Red Bull, music and excitement, the team made deliveries until about 3 a.m., when they made a stop at Dutch Brothers for coffee and then returned to their gathering place for a breakfast of sausage and pancakes.
Flash Love is a nonprofit organization that started five years ago with a mission to bring teens together to teach them leadership skills and to make a difference in the community. It has expanded since then, to have a high school group, known as High School Revolution, and a group for adult professionals in the community.
“We provide leadership training to high school students. We then take seemingly normal events and give them each a unique spin,” Ivanov said.
Often, that spin is the addition of a flash mob-type frenzy.
The idea for Flash Love grew from concern about what teens were doing with their free time, and knowledge that there were better ways to spend their time than playing the Knock Out Game.
Ivanov started Flash Love nearly five years ago (the anniversary coming up in October), and the organization has grown and evolved from an opportunity for teens to do something productive with their time to a group that provides leadership training for teenagers in Vancouver and gives them opportunities to do fabulous things for the community.
Expanding Flash Love’s work
There’s another component that’s newer – Flash Love also brings Vancouver professionals together to make a difference, in much the same way as the teen group does.
“We started to wonder, ‘what if we could bring loan officers and realtors together to serve the community and also provide an opportunity for networking in a neutral environment?’” Ivanov said.
That’s exactly what happened last month.
In late August, a group of 55 Realtors, loan officers and other adults came together to help an elderly woman get control of her overgrown outdoor living space, which included blackberries and bushes in some places up to the roofline, Ivanov said. Evergreen Home Loans sponsored the event and paid for the costs associated with the project.
“We gave them shirts, safety glasses, got them on the bus,” Ivanov said. “We split into zones and teams went to each zone. Within an hour, we had wiped her yard clean. After that, we had a social hour.”
Reactions from participants included comments that it was a very impactful event, and that some hadn’t felt so good in a long time.
Ivanov and his leaders at Flash Love met with one of Vancouver’s code enforcement officers recently, to explain Flash Love’s mission, and to build relationships.
“We want to help those with authentic needs, those who are actually unable to take care of issues,” Ivanov said. “We want to shine a light and give people a positive story to tell.”
To learn more about Flash Love, visit the group’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreFlashLove/.