Ottawa’s Welch LLP shares smiles, gives hope amid COVID-19

Share a Smile Give Hope
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by The Ottawa Mission Foundation.

The Ottawa Mission Foundation’s Share a Smile – Give Hope campaign is creating positivity at a time when many are struggling with the stress and hardships brought about by COVID-19. Individuals and businesses are invited to register as a team, family or individual to make those around them smile while fundraising for The Ottawa Mission. Hannah Steele of Ottawa-based Welch LLP added a unique idea.

Ottawa Mission Foundation
Welch's Hannah Steele is baking a loaf of sourdough bread for a member of her community for every $50 raised.

Like many individuals who have suddenly found themselves at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Steele tried her hand at a new hobby: baking sourdough bread. But the senior staff accountant at Welch added a unique spin to her culinary experiment that helped strengthen the social ties between her remote co-workers while also supporting some of our community’s most vulnerable residents.

Steele put out a challenge to her professional network: for every $50 donated to the Welch Team Page, Steele would bake a loaf of sourdough and donate it to an elderly neighbour who may be having challenges getting groceries, or to a busy family with children at home.

“We can always send messages to our networks and our family and friends, asking them to donate to The Ottawa Mission,” Steele says, “but this is also a way of bringing a smile to members of the wider community.”

Soon after Steele started her campaign – which has so far raised over $400 and led to more than a half-dozen loaves of delicious bread emerging from her oven – one of her co-workers began offering to post videos of her playing feel-good tunes (song requests are encouraged) on her ukulele. Other participants have gotten their kids involved. One group of youngsters is creating chalk drawings at the end of their driveway each day to share a positive message with those walking by.

Other ideas include dressing up in a funny costume to make co-workers laugh during remote meetings, hosting best-in-show pet competitions on social media and posting trivia questions or a joke of the day at the end of your driveway.

“It’s all about positivity,” says Erin Helmer of The Ottawa Mission Foundation. “Let’s put a silver lining on what’s happening and create some good in the world.”

Inside The Ottawa Mission

While Ottawa residents are being asked to seek shelter during the pandemic, self-isolation and avoiding public places are simply not options for those who have no place to call home.

Ottawa Mission FoundationStaff at The Ottawa Mission are working around the clock providing essential services and have changed many of their programs and services to help protect their clients and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Seating has been limited in its dining room to create more physical space, for example, and a “walk-through” service has been introduced to safely give takeout meals to those in need. Similarly, group meetings have been replaced with one-on-one counselling sessions – a necessary safeguard that’s dramatically increased The Mission’s workload. 

In addition to participating in the Share a Smile – Give Hope campaign, Welch has also purchased and delivered meals for The Mission’s front-line staff as part of a wider campaign that’s seen the company buy hundreds of meals for essential workers at local hospitals and long-term care homes.

Ottawa Mission Foundation
Welch's Josh Raganold, right, helps to deliver meals to front-line staff at The Ottawa Mission.

“It was very rewarding to be able to give meals to those people who have been working so hard,” says Josh Raganold, a business development manager at Welch. “We’re trying to spread as much joy as we can.”

Welch and its employees support The Ottawa Mission through multiple campaigns, including participating in its Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk and sponsoring its Blue Door Gala. “The Mission is such an important institution in Ottawa that’s very close to our hearts,” Raganold adds. “They do such great work for the community. And this is the least we can do to help out and thank them for all they do.”

The Ottawa Mission Foundation is hoping to raise $25,000 through its Share a Smile – Give Hope campaign, which runs until June 30. Click here to see how others are engaging their teams and networks, get creative ideas for your own campaign and learn how to support The Ottawa Mission Foundation.