Life is busy. We are all swamped with work, overflowing inboxes, endless to-do lists and a ton of other family and social obligations. With so many demands on our time and mental energy, it can be easy to forget about the importance of giving back to those less fortunate than us.

The issue came up recently in our offices, and we had to ask ourselves the question – what are we doing to give back? As a company, we donate gifts during the holidays to an organization that supports underprivileged children in Quebec. We receive “wish lists” from the kids in early December, and we do what we can to get the gifts they are hoping to receive. It’s a small contribution that we make annually to a local organization that we all feel is important.

Aside from our holiday gift giving initiative, we asked members of our team what they do individually to give back in some way. Whether it’s by donating time, money or other resources, some of our team members are finding creative ways to make a difference.

Ken Proulx, General Manager With a very packed schedule, Ken finds it easiest to set up regular donations to the causes he cares about. Ken donates a set amount each month to UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders. Children’s rights and global healthcare are issues that are important for Ken, and he is happy to contribute what he can each month to help these organizations succeed.

By setting up the recurring donations, Ken doesn’t have to worry about it slipping his mind when life gets really busy. Also, he knows that making regular donations to these organizations helps them to plan for projects and also to react quickly when tragedies occur around the world. Ken finds it reassuring to have made the commitment in advance, and he receives regular communication from both UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders outlining the developments his donations help them to achieve.

Jean Nicolai, Content Director Jean makes a point of donating to various organizations each year. Recently, a CBC documentary caught her attention and inspired her to donate to a new cause. The documentary is called Karihwanoron: Precious Things and tells the story of a small Mohawk immersion school in Kahnawake, Qc. The school is unique because it teaches aboriginal children in their native language as well as English.

In this way, the kids are prepared for high school studies in English, but still honour their roots and keep the traditions of their native culture alive.

A respect for language and culture is something Jean feels is extremely important and, given the unimaginable injustices that have occurred in the past, she sees this school’s initiative as a small but crucial step towards reconciliation. Jean has donated money to help keep the school open, and intends to find other ways she can lend her support to the school.

Jeff Kreinik, Chief Revenue Officer Based in Austin, Texas, Jeff is a co-founder of a non-profit called Grounded in Music,which leverages the power of music to transform the lives of under-served youth. The organization works with several community centers and the Boys & Girls Club to provide music instruction as a way to get kids off the streets and help prevent them from getting into trouble.The program also shows the kids that music can be a career or a hobby that can serve them throughout their lives.

Passionate about the power of music to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and eager to help the underprivileged youth in his community, Jeff donates his time to Grounded in Music, and is a key player in the organization’s growth and development. Grounded in Music just celebrated their tenth anniversary this year!

Denis Gallico, Innovation Director Denis Gallico is not only super busy at work, he also keeps himself occupied with multiple side projects of his own! The most recent, and perhaps most exciting, is a new business he will be launching later this fall (sorry, it’s top secret for now!).

What we do know about Denis’ new business is that the product he creates is made mostly out of wood. As someone who is very concerned about sustainability and respect for the environment, Denis was determined to find a way to help replenish the resources his new business venture uses.

That’s why he partnered with One Tree Planted, a Vermont-based organization that works to plant trees around the world. The idea is simple – donate one dollar, and they will plant one tree. Denis worked on a donation structure that works for his business, and he will be keeping up with One Tree Planted to learn about the new trees his donations are helping them to plant all over the world.

Andrew Leong, Web Developer Andrew bikes to work almost every day. Rain or shine, it’s definitely his preferred way to commute. A passion for cycling led Andrew to join a group called CRABE (Centre de Réparations et Ajustements de Bicyclette) during his time studying at ÉTS. CRABE is a bicycle workshop open to all ÉTS students, and students learned how to do everything from changing a tire to disassembling a bike entirely and putting it back together. Andrew found this knowledge to be very valuable, and was eager to volunteer his time regularly for the group’s involvement in a project called C-Vert.

Volunteers working on the project with C-Vert gather a large batch of used or abandoned bicycles and then tune them up so they can be used again. When the bikes are ready, groups of underprivileged teenagers attend bike workshops led by C-Vert, where they learn all about bike repair and maintenance. At the end of the workshop, the teens get to take home the bike they have been working on as well as a brand new helmet and bike lock – for free!

The initiative encourages young people to embrace a cycling lifestyle and to learn the proper maintenance and safety rules to be responsible cyclists. Andrew enjoys working with C-Vert and sharing his knowledge and passion for cycling with those in his community.

This is just a snap shot of what some of our team members are doing to give back to communities and organizations they care about. Other people on the team are working on fundraising ideas, and we are going to look into new initiatives we can get involved with as a group. Despite the rush of our day-to-day lives, we know it is always important to take a second now and then and ask ourselves…what am I doing to give back?

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