CF Member creates social networking site for CF Members and families
By Jillian Driessen
Jeramy Ratelle created Myforces.ca so military members and their families could stay in touch or reconnect with friends and coworkers they've met during their time in the Canadian Forces (CF).
Since its launch last October, the social networking site has grown to over 1100 members with forty percent of users being serving or retired military, and remaining members being family, friends, and supporters of the military community.
"Myforces.ca features many options to make it both accessible and entertaining for the user," says Ratelle. "The site offers our members the options of writing blogs, uploading photos and videos, creating a customizable profile, and a chat bar. There are also pages, discussions, and events all available throughout the site."
The military social network also features the ability to monitor twitter accounts and the option to sign in via Facebook. To search for members of MyForces community, members can search by name, rank, posting history, tour history, and year of enrollment among other things.
It took Ratelle, an Avionics System Technician, a month to set it up, but since its launch the site continues to evolve. “Since then I’ve made hundreds of changes and the site has taken on a life of its own," he says.
Myforces.ca was created at Ratelle’s kitchen table last fall and is maintained, and operated solely by volunteers. Ratelle, a member of the CF since 2002, and three other volunteer staffers: Louise Wilkinson, Hendrick Pape and Brenda Anderson, are responsible for everything from site administration, maintenance, and development.
Ratelle acknowledges that there are some very active members who help them by offering feedback, monitoring content, and spreading the word. He says that within the first 60 days of operation the site attracted a wide base of users with a wide range of interest and investment in the CF.
Many people joined just to have the opportunity to say a thank you to members of the Canadian Forces. While Myforces.ca is a social networking site for CF families, Ratelle is now working to promote organizations that support the troops and their families. He and site moderator Brenda Anderson are currently working on the Bring It Home event. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Royal Legion Poppy Fund, as well as, the Healing Waters Project.
“Brenda is very passionate about her cause and it's contagious," says Ratelle. "The idea to create the Bringing it Home website inspired me to do the same for other causes and initiatives. For example, I will hopefully be building a website for The Red Friday Ladies, and I have also created a site for a War Child fundraiser taking place in May. I'm excited about the possibility of getting MyForces involved with other great causes as opportunities present themselves.”
Ratelle says that he sees more potential in the site now as members use it as a tool to meet new people and promote events and fundraisers right across the country.
“The possibilities are numerous and really quite exciting,” says Ratelle.