The #TDThanksYou campaign is aimed at thanking and rewarding customers and employees who are making an impact in their communities. This year’s focus is on those dedicated and selfless Canadians who have been working tirelessly to help their communities through COVID-19. Selfless Canadians like Alicia. When the pandemic hit, Toronto resident, Alicia Rose, saw a need in Toronto Food Banks and worked tirelessly to help fill it. We were able to speak to her this week to learn more!
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences. What problem does it aim to solve? When did you start/join it?
This fundraiser was done in partnership with Black Toronto Community Support, which was a group created to connect and support Black people in Toronto. This group focuses on Black business, entrepreneurship and how we can come together to support communities in need. I am member of this group and am close friends with the founder, Kay “Spexx” Jordan.
When COVID-19 hit, Spexx and I connected about how we can support the community during this time. We wanted to make sure we were doing things that made a true impact and were making tangible solutions for people. We kept discussing ideas about food and how we could support that logistically. Ultimately, we decided that we wanted to fundraise for food banks that were overwhelmed with requests from the community who not only needed fresh food, but needed someone to deliver it to their home. We thought the best thing we could do was pool our networks and resources and start fundraising for those organizations. We created a GoFundMe page to help raise much needed support for local food banks who were overwhelmed in the early days of the pandemic. To be honest, we anticipated very little return and were overwhelmed with the response. We raised close to $20K in a few weeks!
What made you want to get involved?
My partner is a front-line health care worker and from the beginning of COVID-19 was going out every day into the community while the rest of us were locked down. It was a scary time but I was also so proud of him for the work he was doing. I saw that and felt like I could do more. I was watching the news and saw that food banks had been inundated by requests from people. I have preexisting conditions and I was lucky that I didn’t have to compromise my health in order to secure food as I have a ton of resources and networks that can help me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about all those people who didn’t have those resources and wanted to help.
What was the situation like when you started? How has it changed since?
Things have and haven’t changed. While there is more freedom of movement, COVID-19 still very much exists. And while there may be less attention on the acute needs of the vulnerable communities, charities are still struggling and still need to fundraise. They need a lot of help to meet the growing demand and food banks continue to project more and more requests. But I also feel like the needs are changing – i.e. with school starting. While the problems may not feel as acute when it comes to food security, there are other issues starting. We are going to see long-term issues when it comes to kids and education – what about the kids that need more support whose parents can’t afford a tutor to ensure they aren’t falling behind? Who is helping them?
What more needs to be done?
There is a lot being done and I would hesitate to say that I am in a position to say these are the things we need to do. But what I would say is that through my job as TD (I am a Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Social Impact), I see the impacts of COVID-19. I help oversee the TD United Way Employee Giving Campaign and the $10M TD Ready Challenge. I see that non-profits continue to deliver changemaking impacts, are also struggling through the pandemic. The needs continue and the gaps continue so if there is opportunity for individuals to step up and support in a way that is safe and comfortable for them, then I encourage them to do so. None of us have been through a global pandemic before. For us to get through this, it’s going to take collective work. We can’t independently get through this. We need to come together as a community to deal with all of its impacts – health, mental health, food, education and so forth.
How can our readers help?
I encourage people to reach out to each other and share ideas with another. Sometimes it’s hard to see how you can make a change by yourself. It can be intimidating as you don’t know where or how to start. I was lucky to work with Black Toronto Community Support. They are an incredible organization doing really meaningful work.
Do you have any events coming up? Where can we follow you?
If you want to learn more, I encourage you to check out the Black Toronto Community Support Facebook group.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
The Obsidian Theatre Company. This is the place where I started my career. As the only Black led and Black focused theatre company in Toronto, it was one of the very few organizations providing paid apprenticeships at the time. It taught me so much – about the critical need and role of Black theatre makers, their ability to tell stories specific to the Black experience and bring them to Canada’s cultural forefront, practical work skills and so much more.
As a recipient of the #TDThanksYou campaign, a donation was made in my name to The Obsidian Theatre Company and it meant the world to me. I am so passionate about them. They truly were a jumping off point for me and my career and I learned so much about my own history that I never knew. It was a huge eye opener for me from a career perspective and to see the power of storytelling through art.
When I came to TD, I saw that TD had been their supporting sponsor and I felt like it all made sense. I felt at home at TD as it showed me that they understand the importance and power of the organization.
And in relation to being a recipient of the #TDThanksYou campaign, I have to say that to be nominated by Naki Osutei is a huge compliment. I have such respect for her and the work she does. The donation made to The Obsidian Theatre Company showcases the humanity of TD. It’s easy to get caught up in the work we do every day and then something like this happens, and you feel seen and appreciated and connected. It makes me feel like I am in the right place. People see me as a whole person and not just an employee.