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Business benevolence: how Newfoundland and Labrador companies are helping during COVID-19

Rhonda Tulk-Lane, St. John’s Board of Trade’s acting CEO: “We’re seeing these innovative small businesses that were started right here really step up to the plate, and it’s mind blowing, the kindness we’re seeing, and connectedness.” -Contributed file photo
Rhonda Tulk-Lane, St. John’s Board of Trade’s acting CEO: “We’re seeing these innovative small businesses that were started right here really step up to the plate, and it’s mind blowing, the kindness we’re seeing, and connectedness.” -Contributed file photo

Respirators, coffee, hand sanitizer and more to help essential workers



ST. JOHN'S — At a time when many local businesses are barely staying afloat, they’re still doing what they can to support people all across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dynamic Air Shelters in Grand Bank is using its technology to build emergency hospitals and quarantine shelters.

The Luxus Boutique Hotel in St. John’s is acting as a safe courier dropoff and pickup for downtown.

Quidi Vidi Brewery played online bingo in aid of the Community Food Sharing Association.

Ultramar is giving $10 off a tank of gas for health-care workers and first-responders.

PAL Airlines is flying health-care supplies from mining companies in Labrador at no cost.

Labatt Brewery and Irving are making hand sanitizer.

The Newfoundland Chocolate Company delivered sweets to the Health Sciences Centre and the Janeway.

Freshii delivered food to intensive care unit workers.

Verafin made a large donation to Connections for Seniors, which provides support for older adults in crisis or facing homelessness.

Truck stops along the highway are giving free coffee and soup to truckers.

These are just some of the stories of businesses doing what they can to support the community.

“Watching our members that have resources, and that can help, offering free services, it’s been amazing.” -Rhonda Tulk-Lane, acting CEO of the St. John’s Board of Trade.

“We keep having our members call, like, Ray Agency, things have slowed for them, so they need to stay engaged, so they’re offering free marketing advice to anyone.”

And it’s not just small, local businesses helping out.

“What we’re seeing is our larger corporations really coming to the plate as well,” said Tulk-Lane.

“So, we’re leaning on, for example, our banks — BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), Export Development Canada, ones that are also attached to government, but then the private sector, really trying to become more flexible to help the small businesses, because small business is truly the engine of our economy.”

Delivering warmth

Still, small acts of kindness go a long way, too.

That’s what Jumping Bean CEO and president Jeff LeDrew was thinking about when he went to his now-closed downtown cafe early one morning recently to brew coffee for paramedics.

Jeff LeDrew is the CEO and president of Jumping Bean. -SaltWire Network file photo
Jeff LeDrew is the CEO and president of Jumping Bean. -SaltWire Network file photo

He delivered morning and afternoon coffee and pastries to the Paramedics Association of Newfoundland, and gifts for the night shift, too.

“Just the little gestures, that’s it — that’s all we all can do is just do the small stuff,” said LeDrew.

“Everybody goes in and out of their work, but these folks, the front-line people, they don’t have a choice, really. They’re the ones that are stepping up and got to deliver the care, and courage to go out and do it every day. So, for the rest of us, even though it’s painful to have to go through the business issues, their life and health and family is put on the line, so it’s just the right thing to do.”

A helping hand sanitizer

Meanwhile, in Clarke’s Beach, the orders for hand sanitizer are coming rapidly for Newfoundland Distillery Co. co-owner Peter Wilkins.

The distillery is seeing those orders coming from the RCMP, pharmacies, hospitals, the provincial government and countless others.

It's only been a couple of weeks since they’ve started turning their stockpile of alcohol, but they’ve gone through two batches and there isn’t an end in sight.

“We have way more requests than we have hand sanitizer, but we will be working on that,” said Wilkins.

The decision for the distillery to start making hand sanitizer came after the province experienced a shortage in the days before, and following, the announcement of COVID-19 prevention measures.

“We thought perhaps we could do something useful like that,” said Wilkins.

Taking a cue from distilleries in other parts of the country, they had alcohol and a desire to help. Called Fighting Spirit, based off of the Fighting Newfoundlander stamp, the distillery gathered the necessary ingredients according to the World Health Organization’s recipe and started producing the product.

The next step was getting it approved by Health Canada.

“It is important to make hand sanitizer. That takes precedence at the moment,” said Wilkins.

Tulk-Lane said she she hopes these acts of kindness through such a difficult time will continue whenever the crisis ends.

“We’re seeing these innovative small businesses that were started right here really step up to the plate, and it’s mind-blowing, the kindness we’re seeing, and connectedness. Hopefully coming out of this we’re going to be a little bit more of a gentler society, and be a bit more patient with each other.”

Multi-dimensional help

All of the support doesn’t go unnoticed by Eastern Health.

The health authority extended its thanks to its many community and businesses partners who have been helping throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in an emailed statement to The Telegram.

And it told of another local business playing an important role. 

“An example of this is our partnership with PolyUnity who are 3D printing face shields for use in the OR. Eastern Health and PolyUnity have been working on joint innovation opportunities for a period of time. When the opportunity to print personal protective equipment supplies, including face shields, presented, Eastern Health and PolyUnity partnered on this initiative. 

“Additionally, TaskForceNL, a collaboration among a number of local businesses, is availing of their contacts and expertise to support Eastern Health with our procurement efforts.  Eastern Health would like to thank everyone who is supporting us during this time.”

The health authority also extended its gratitude to all health care workers “for their tireless commitment to providing quality and safe health care as we work together through COVID-19.”

@nikmercer

@juanitamercer_

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