The Ripple Effect of Paying it Forward
This winter is one of the harshest we’ve had in years. And there’s still six weeks to go. Temperatures have dipped to -30 in some provinces and the Greater Toronto Area is set to have the snowiest winter in a decade. For most of us it’s annoying – relentless shovelling, poor driving conditions and praying our cars will even start. But for thousands of Canadians their number one concern is where to sleep.
In fact, 50,000 people across Canada will experience homelessness this season and at least 20% are young people under the age of 24. The gravity of this issue, especially in Toronto, is one that most of us know about but don’t truly understand.
A few years ago, I saw on social media that Covenant House was trying to do something innovative to raise awareness for homelessness - having business leaders in the community take the streets for a night of mock-homelessness – I had to jump in. That’s why I vowed to make a contribution to homelessness every year, personally and as a business leader. Since 2014, I’ve been a part of the Convent House Sleep-Out initiative helping to raise $400,000 for the amazing services the shelter provides for displaced youth. At Simply Group, we set up the Simply Cares foundation to directly help those in need throughout the communities we live and work in.
Last year, we created a Winter Warm-up campaign where our team hit the streets of Toronto to give out warm clothes and blankets to homeless people in the city. It was an eye-opening experience for our team, one that inspired us to do even more.
This year, we created the Holiday Give-Back campaign, where we set aside $25 or $50 from the installation of every furnace or hot water heater from Simply Green and Sandpiper Energy Solutions in the Hamilton and Halton region. These are important communities for us because Sandpiper Energy Solutions has been providing home comfort services to families in this region for years. The money raised will benefit the United Way Halton & Hamilton Region– a charity focused on helping young people and families with food, shelter, and mental health support.
I’m proud to share that on Tuesday we hand-delivered a cheque of $5,0000 to Jennifer Loker, Senior Director Resource Development at United Way Halton & Hamilton Region (UWHHR). We presented the cheque to her at Wesley Urban Ministries, a local Hamilton organization UWHHR supports. It is one of the only 7-day-a-week programs supporting at-risk men and women with everything from hot meals to career training.
Simply Group staff and I spent the morning at the Wesley Day Centre understanding more about the services both organizations provide and handed out warm clothes and hot chocolate to those visiting the Wesley Day Centre. We met people who were grateful to receive a warm jacket, and who expressed that they just need a helping hand to get through their current situation and on to the next stage in their life.
From my own experiences I know the impact these services can have. I grew up with a single mom and we didn’t have much. Neither did others in our community. I witnessed how others benefited from these types of programs and community services, and how much they can improve lives.
I’m under no illusions that our Holiday Give-Back campaign is going to change the face of homelessness and poverty in Canada. However, if each of us, especially business leaders, make a genuine effort to give-back in the communities we live and work in, as a collective we have the power to cause a ripple effect across this great nation and truly transform the lives of those around us.
Thank you, United Way Halton and Hamilton and Wesley Urban Ministries, for all you do. If you would like to donate, please visit: