CANMORE – An initiative aimed to help hospitality and tourism workers that have been laid off as a result of COVID-19 is underway in Canmore.
Launched this week, Hope for Hospitality hopes to fundraise in order to provide laid-off workers with $100 food gift cards during this global pandemic.
“The intent of the money really is to get food cards to staff that need it,” said Vijay Domingo.
“When I heard businesses are making these difficult decisions with their staff, and their relationships with their staff are strong, that’s a wonderful thing to hear, but how sad some of the stories are. These long-term, five- or 10-year relationships and having to lay people off – it does break your heart when you hear those stories. We’re hoping for those individuals to be able to connect together and have access to food cards for the months affected.”
The project is a partnership with the community, explained Domingo, where local students, Our Lady of the Rockies Parish and Tourism Canmore Kananaskis (TCK) have come together. In an email sent out from TCK, it’s described as a “Canmore-grown initiative.”
Domingo, who is also the owner of Cornerstone Theatre and made a foundational donation to the organzation of $20,000, said he’d be happy if the initiative helped any number of people.
“We are a tourist community, and we are very affected, especially the hotels ... the need was immediate,” he said.
“I know as the government is unrolling those programs, it could still be a month or so before people are seeing those checks. The program was designed just to be that bridging gap. If it could help 200 people in the community, I think it’s already a success.”
The idea all began as a conversation between family, Domingo said.
“It really came about as a family conversation. My daughter is the president of student council at Our Lady of the Snow and we were just thinking about how we could help the community out,” said Domingo.
“We decided there’s three key ways. One is hope. I think right now in this time that we’re dealing with, I think people feel that they’re not in control … that’s where I think it really starts with the kids and being able to give those positive messages out to the community.
"The second thing was really about bringing the community together … ?ow do we bring our community together so that we help both the staff and the businesses and everyone’s doing so many things right now? We just thought we could use what we know to make the program successful. And the third part was maintaining social distancing.”
His daughter rallied other students to create personalized cards to be sent with each donation, which would be delivered while respecting social distancing best practices.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the community, which Domingo said is already quite inspiring.
“At this time, this is where we’ve got to have some hope … I just see a lot of inspiration in the community.”
Donations can be made by way of Our Ladies of Rockies Parish, at rockiesparish.com/donate.html, with tax receipts available. Gift cards will be purchased in $100 increments and businesses can apply for the cards online on behalf of an employee. TCK will be receiving requests for need and the cards will be distributed along with student artwork and messages of hope.
Visit explorecanmore.ca/blog/hope-for-hospitality/ for more information.