Name:  Ariel Riske
Age:  25
City:  Toronto

What do you do when you’re not changing the world with philanthropic gestures?
I spend my days (and some evenings) trying to communicate a brand’s message in a way that is relevant and useful to people’s lives. Working with Rethink on the Give-A-Care campaign gave me a creative outlet where I felt like I could really make a difference. I think that brands too have that power—and more importantly, that responsibility—to create social change.

In my free time, you’ll find me reading books that make me sound smarter, finding ways to travel on the cheap, and trying to teach my dog not to be scared of the refrigerator.

How do you find a cause you are passionate about?
My passions usually arise from personal experience. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 36, and passed away two years later. Working with Rethink has helped me find closure, while honouring her memory. I’m also passionate about mental health, environmentalism, and women’s issues. There are so many great causes that are equally important, choose something that resonates with you.

What is one thing you have re-thought in your life? How did you approach it?
When I was younger, I struggled with depression for several years. I let my hardships weigh me down, and was constantly making excuses. Over the years, things have not necessarily gotten easier, but I’ve become resilient and optimistic. After almost losing a second parent to cancer, and admiring the optimism that my father shared during his treatment, I’ve learned to appreciate life and to not let the little things get to me. When I face a challenge, I ask: Will this still affect me in a week? A month? A year? Is this so big that I can’t get past it? If the answer is no, I find a way to look on the bright side.
Try it the next time it feels like the world is out to get you because you got a parking ticket. 😉

What is the most important thing to know when it comes to donating to a cause?
I think it’s important that you know where the money’s going and how it’s being used. Check out the organization’s mission statement and do a bit of research to ensure their values are aligned with yours. Everyone behind Give-A-Care was adamant that products were donated by partners, and that 100% of proceeds would go right back into Rethink’s work to support young women and families affected by breast cancer. We also scrutinized each product, holding focus groups with women undergoing treatment, to ensure product efficacy and authenticity.

A person who gives back that you aspire to:
The women at Rethink are an inspiration to me—and not just for their fashion sense. I also look up to my mom as she was such a passionate, warm, and giving person. She was a nurse in intensive care, and treated every patient with kindness and respect. When people under her care would pass away, she often received flowers from their grieving families to thank her for being there. She had a way of making you feel like you really mattered. I aspire to bring that same positive energy to everything I do.

What is innovative about the Rethink approach?
I think most breast cancer charities are more focused on awareness and prevention, and while Rethink does advocate for this, they’re the only charity I know that supports young women with breast cancer, providing them with resources while connecting them with other women going through this. I also think the material they offer online—such as their blogs and videos—are invaluable for women living in more remote areas who might not have access to these types of resources. Often the language around breast cancer is riddled with clichés, or is overly optimistic or clinical. Rethink has approached the topic in a more relatable and honest way, opening doors for conversations to get real, and for women to get the care they really need.

What inspires you daily?
Every morning while I drink my coffee, I peruse through different creativity blogs, ranging from advertising campaigns, social awareness initiatives, or product and industrial design, to fashion, music, and cultural movements. They say there’s no such thing as an original thought anymore, but I have to disagree when I see what people are capable of.

Why should people support a cause they are passionate about?
Because if you won’t, who will? So much of activism has turned into social media slacktivism. So if you are passionate about a cause, find a way to make a difference. If you’re not in a position to donate money, donate your time. It’s just as valuable.

When I give back I feel
Empathy. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes helps me gain perspective and gratitude for the people and circumstance in my life. It keeps me motivated to support that cause in the future when I think about the difference I’m making—no matter how small.

For more on Give-A-Care click HERE.