#SBCGives: Decking the halls at a local homeless shelter
For the staff of Event Spectrum Inc., it all began eight years ago, when an employee walked into work one wintry morning with a problem.
Her brother, who managed the Gateway homeless shelter in downtown Toronto, needed help serving the Christmas dinner. It was a quick answer from Event Spectrum’s staff.
“Everybody said yes,” remembers owner and president Cynthia Richards, and the team has served the holiday meal every year since.
Event Spectrum, which produces large scale corporate events for major companies like TD Bank and Nissan Canada, expanded their efforts four years ago after noticing the drab decorations at the shelter.
“Their lack of decoration for Christmas was pretty sad,” Richards says. So, they bought trees and ornaments to hang in the windows.
“We continue to do the decorating,” says Richards, which means a staff of 22 descend upon the shelter each December. “We take our music, we all wear Santa hats, and we’ve come to know the people who work there over the years.”
The decorations lift the spirits of staff and clients, she says. “They are so thankful. This year we noticed they’re really low in contributions for socks and underwear, so one of our team went to Costco and is delivering a huge load of socks and underwear.”
It’s a partnership that also feeds Event Spectrum as a business. “When you do this kind of charitable act together, it fosters that great teamwork,” Richards says. “We say to ourselves, ‘Wow are we so grateful that we can take the time.’ It puts things into perspective.”
Working with the homeless community is especially important to Richards. “I always say when we drive back — we’re usually singing carols — there but for the grace of God go I,” she says. “People have so many different stories and tragedies that we don’t have experience with.”