To help spread some good news in these challenging times, RBC launched Random Acts of Canadian — a national call to showcase the incredible ways in which Canadians are supporting one another and their communities through these tough times.
Canadian newcomers and immigrants have made their own unique impact on their communities and we are proud to showcase their efforts in this series of stories uncovered through the Random Acts of Canadian program.
Astrid Arumae: Fondation Aide Outremont
Astrid Arumae felt the need to help when Quebec issued stay-at-home orders for anyone over the age of 70. “What are people supposed to do?” she would ask, wondering how seniors would get groceries, medications or other essentials. “There were no solutions provided. I was just genuinely concerned and felt compelled to do something.”
The former IT worker, who immigrated to Canada from Estonia in 2010, spoke to a few friends and quickly set up an informal grocery delivery service for seniors. But after realizing that they needed proper tools to facilitate shopping, volunteer reimbursements, payment processing and order fulfilment, she decided her small but mighty group needed to become a more official entity.
In mid-March, Astrid incorporated Fondation Aide Outremont Covid-19. She launched a website, set up a hotline, hired over 60 volunteers and raised funds. She secured Moneris as a sponsor which provided ten point-of-sale machines and waived fees to help reduce Astrid’s operating costs. The foundation has since formed a vision and a board and have completed over 600 grocery deliveries, healthcare visits, check ins and pharmacy runs. They have also recently received funding from Outremont Borough Local Emergency Funds, the Federal Emergency Community Support Fund and RBC, which allows Astrid to begin paying staff who have taken on full-time roles. For her part, however, the foundation remains a labour of love.
There are certainly incredible stories of good work and generosity these days. But Astrid Arumae has taken her personal sense of responsibility to another level, ensuring that as many people as possible can get the help they need during difficult times.
Steve Kidron: Kitchen 24
Steve Kidron knows what it’s like to be hungry. He had very little when he came to Canada from Israel in 1990. He spent his first months in Canada on the streets, and would occasionally have to rummage through garbage cans for food. Through hard work and resourcefulness however he was able to rise from his situation and start an organization called Kitchen 24 which provides professional kitchen space, resources and culinary classes. In the years since, Steve has often used his 35,000 square foot space to help feed the hungry in his community.
At the onset of COVID-19, he saw many community organizations and businesses begin to shut down. Those in need were losing critical local resources. Steve stepped in. With the help of volunteers he began donating 500-700 cooked meals daily. The meals went to nursing homes and shelters throughout the community. He then started a Go Fund Me campaign, because he knew the community needs were greater.
“500 meals a day is not enough. Our facility has the capacity to create more, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “And we plan to keep on going for as long as there are mouths to feed during this pandemic.”
Thanks to the generous donations of other Canadians and his dedicated volunteers, Steve and team have helped more than 40 community organizations and provided over 60,000 meals to those in need since March.
Steve’s dedication to help the vulnerable has meant thousands of people across Toronto haven’t gone hungry during the pandemic. Because he knows how it felt to go hungry himself, he knows how much a meal can help someone in need.
Canadians of all walks of life have demonstrated incredible acts of humanity and generosity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and Canadian immigrants have stepped up to today’s challenges to fill the needs of their communities. View more stories at Random Acts of Canadian where each week, RBC showcases and celebrates people and groups who spread joy and kindness across the country.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.