Community Proud

Chris Keevill & Sara Napier: Calling on Atlantic Canadian businesses to lend a helping hand

by Guest Contributor

This article originally appeared in SaltWire publications across Atlantic Canada.

CHRIS KEEVILL and SARA NAPIER

Just as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty in all of our daily lives, it has also forced businesses and non-profits to re-evaluate everything — from the details of our day-to-day operations to how we articulate and demonstrate our core values.

It has been uplifting to see businesses rise to the occasion by announcing charitable donations and other programs to help those most affected by the pandemic. A heightened sense of corporate responsibility has emerged, along with a wider discussion about how businesses can give back to their employees, customers and the communities they serve. It is humbling to realize how much has changed in so little time.

However, the job is not yet done. As Atlantic Canadian businesses and community leaders, we have an opportunity to prioritize compassion, creativity and community-building. First, because the need to transform the way we work, lead and contribute will linger over the long term. Second, because consumers and citizens are expecting more people-first leadership from businesses. Rightly so, because businesses do so much more than stimulate the economy; they influence culture, conversation and community. Many have the means to help, and many more have the platform to lead by example.

The events of this year represent an opportunity for Atlantic Canadian business leaders to think differently and to consider a broader purpose in order to help our region strengthen and prosper.

In that spirit, Atlantic Lottery launched 2020 Community Proud, which allows Atlantic Canadians to nominate local charitable organizations they care about to receive a $5,000 donation. During the summer of 2020, 12 charitable organizations across our region will be selected from these nominations to receive a donation to assist their efforts.

To get the ball rolling, Atlantic Lottery also donated $50,000 to the United Way Atlantic Compassion Fund — the latest example of the long partnership between our two organizations. The 11 United Ways in Atlantic Canada created this Atlantic-wide fund in response to COVID-19 to help vulnerable members of our communities as they face more difficulties than ever. Homelessness, food insecurity, mental illness and precarious employment are unfortunately not new concerns in our region, but the current situation has made the need even more pressing.

United Way, like all charities, depends on donations to continue its critical work in our communities. We are so fortunate in this part of the world as Atlantic Canadians are generous people. This generosity and compassion for others comes to life through individuals, families and businesses, many of whom have and continue to donate. And yet, a gap still exists between the impact these donors are making and the need for food, shelter, support and connection that people in our communities are facing.

Giving back to communities has been Atlantic Lottery’s core purpose since its creation more than 40 years ago. We’ve returned $10.2 billion in profit and United Way has been our corporate charity of choice since 1993, resulting in more than $1.2 million in contributions. Atlantic Lottery also proudly sponsors more than 100 festivals, exhibitions and events every year that celebrate the unique culture of each community and support economic development within our region.

This is our business as usual. But these are not usual times.

As a corporation and as people who live and work in Atlantic Canada, Atlantic Lottery and its employees will continue to seek new ways to make a further positive difference. We encourage all business leaders in our special corner of Canada to do the same, to whatever extent you may be able. United Way has responded quickly to the specific challenges created by the pandemic, but the needs continue to grow.

Atlantic Canada has always thrived in the face of adversity because of its people’s ability to pull together when times get tough. Together, we can help even the most vulnerable Atlantic Canadians make it through this crisis and its ripple effects, which will challenge all of us for many months to come.

Chris Keevill is the president and CEO of Atlantic Lottery and was previously the chair of the United Way Halifax. Sara Napier is president and CEO of United Way Halifax, and works in close collaboration with all of her United Way leaders and colleagues across the Atlantic region.