Banff food and beverage workers give back over holiday season

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When you give people a chance to step up and give back to the community they live in, sometimes they can really surprise you.

That’s what officials with the Banff Hospitality Collective are discovering this post-Christmas season when they tallied up the results of a fundraising campaign created by staff for staff.

BHC director of operations Katie Tuff said this week that over an eight-day (Dec. 24-31) period at Christmas, with matching funds from the company, staff raised $10,000 for three local charities – the YWCA Banff’s women’s emergency shelter project, Kidsport Bow Valley and SPCA.

“The really special thing about it for me is that it felt like a real experiment in social behaviour,” Tuff said. “I think people who come here get a bad rap, that they are here to just party.

“I think it was part of our vision that they would step up. I wasn’t at all surprised by the response.”

With approximately 200 staff in winter (and 500 in summer) the Banff Hospitality Collective manages a wide array of restaurants and bars, including Bear Street Tavern, The Bison, Park Distillery, The Maple Leaf, Magpie and Stump, The Eddie, Balkan, Hoodoo, High Rollers, Dancing Sasquatch, and the newest restaurant in Banff, Chuck’s Steakhouse.

Tuff said BHC wanted its staff to be empowered to make a change in their community and that is how the collective commitment committee was formed. Chair and longtime local Kasper Millar said it was through the committee’s work that the idea of eight days of giving came about and they found once you created a way for staff to give back, they did.

The company has a budget to give back to the community, said Tuff, but it was the committee and staff that decided how.

Millar said giving staff a choice of where to make a difference with their donation, given that it was being matched dollar for dollar by BHC, helped make the campaign a success.

“I think giving people a choice made it really successful,” she said. “We wanted to give people an opportunity to donate.”

The great news, other than the $10,000 raised for local charities, is that the collective commitment committee is here to stay and will be able to create a similar campaign next December as well.

For YWCA CEO Connie MacDonald, receiving a donation was great news, but being able to see that it came through engaging an often hard to reach demographic in the community made it even better.

“I would call it a path to engagement and a path to generosity,” MacDonald said. “I know there were times in my life when maybe I had more time than money to give, which is why it is important to engage.”

She said by setting the stage for employees to create a program to give back to the community, BHC is demonstrating corporate social responsibility values in the community.

“Of course it is always great to get a financial donation,” MacDonald said. “But for us, having more knowledge about our organization, or even for us to know we can come to this organization for volunteers or input; for me that is the most important aspect. This helps engage a younger demographic in the community.”

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Rocky Mountain Outlook