The unprecedented times we're currently experiencing have led many people to find ways to help out within their communities. One example of this is Montreal local Sharon Brand, who in collaboration with Comptoir 400, has managed to raise over $7000 to support front line workers in hospitals across the city.
What started as one pizza delivery for 120 doctors and nurses at the Jewish General Hospital ended up resulting in weeks of providing food for health care workers in Montreal.
Brand has managed to get five other local businesses involved in her mission as well.
Now, she organizes weekly food deliveries to staff working in the COVID-19 units at the Montreal General Hospital, the Jewish General Hospital, the CHUM, the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, and the Ste-Justine Hospital.
The growth of her mission all has to do with the effectiveness of social media and its necessity during the times we're facing right now.
I got the chance to speak with Sharon about how she made all of this possible and the advice she has for anyone else looking to make a difference in their city.
Read my interview with her below!
How did you get the deliveries started?
I started by calling the Jewish General Hospital to ask if they would be interested in receiving a lunch delivery. After getting transferred to five different people, they finally said yes.
The first delivery started with just Comptoir 400 and it was for 120 people. Just pizza.
It went great and they were so happy, and I posted about it on social media. I also asked on Instagram if anyone knew anyone working in hospitals or if anyone else wanted to help by donating money.
The next day, I woke up with messages from people all around the world wanting to donate.
People were sharing it on their stories, tagging it in their posts, everything really just happened from scratch using Instagram.
Then, more hospitals and more nurses started connecting with me.
After week three, we had four deliveries each week that fed about 30 to 45 employees. And it just continued.
Where have the donations come from?
It was mostly the community of Montreal who donated.
People also sent donations from Italy, France, Spain, Israel, Brazil — really every country you can think of.
Cities like Vancouver and Toronto, too.
In the states, we got donations from people in New York, which was really nice since they're also struggling so much there, as well as LA, Chicago, Boston, and Las Vegas.
Individuals have donated from Singapour, India, China, and Japan too.
Where exactly do the deliveries go?
At first, they went to employees at the emergency units in hospitals. Then, slowly but surely, doctors and nurses from the K-8 and K-10 units heard about the deliveries and reached out to me.
Now, we basically only deliver to the units that work directly with COVID-19, as well as the birthing family centres in hospitals, which include OBs, gynecologists, and employees in the postpartum units.
How do you think this got so big?
It was really by sharing it on social media — through spreading awareness on Facebook and making calls to action on Instagram stories.
Over the span of five weeks, we got donations of $7000.
Every time after a delivery, I share a photo on Comptoir 400's Instagram story. I post it on my personal account also, which gets more individual responses.
Now, five different local businesses, including Bassé Nuts, Carrement Tarte, Café Brossard, Cool Way, and Nature Source, have partnered up with Comptoir 400 for the deliveries.
So, there's a variety of food being delivered.
While it's really about helping the medical staff, it's also helping support local businesses at the moment.
It's just crazy to think that it all started through Instagram.
Do you have any advice for other individuals looking to make a difference in their city?
I think you need to know that people are listening to you. People follow you on Instagram or on any other social media network and this makes it so easy to send out a message today.
So, if you want to do something, like helping out nurses and doctors, then all you have to do is really put it out there.
I was hesitant at first to show everything we're doing since it's not my job or anything. But then I said, "oh, why not share it with all my followers from all over the world?"
People then started messaging me asking how they could start this in their own countries.
So, not only was I doing this in Montreal, but I ended up helping others do it in their respective cities too.
I think if you believe that you can, then you will. Simply post it on Instagram and use your voice as influence.
What kind of responses have you received from all of this?
The doctors and nurses are always so thankful and appreciative. They tell me that it's as though that they don't have food, it's that they don't have a second to sit down and eat a good meal.
So, when they get our deliveries, they can sit all together and enjoy it, which gives them a little break to relax.
After every delivery, I get messages from the health care workers and it's the most beautiful thing.