Remember back to the first weeks of the pandemic? Remember all the layoffs?
Whole industries shut down, perhaps you were laid off. (But hopefully not!)
For our own part we never closed the cafe and we never sent anyone home. Our staff of primarily students did opt to go home, as parents called them back to hunker down as a family. We went from 17 to three employees in late-March.
That was a “holy shit” moment.
We decided to stay open unless forced to close, and my wife and I helped out in the early mornings – we both say that if just one more employee had left, then we would have had to close like so many other cafes.
A month into the pandemic there were a lot of people hurting financially. We wanted to do our part and so one day we decided to use up oats and toppings and put out bowls of oatmeal in bags on a catering cart.
We added a little sign that said:
“OC Breakfast Club – take a bag if you, or a friend, are in need.”
We thought we’d do it if for a month or so.
On that first day, all the bags disappeared.
So we kept doing it and they kept disappearing. We didn’t ask any questions. We didn’t know where they were going. Sometimes we’d see someone pick up a few bags at once.
That was 1,000 days – and 15,000 bags ago.
The notes we got from some of the recipients were very touching. We feel that we are really helping people in a direct way, unfiltered by any layer of bureaucracy.
When we opened our second store in 2021 on Gladstone, we realized there was a far greater need in Centretown West. When we put our usual 10 to 15 bags out they were gone within five minutes. So now we do two waves separated by a few hours.
That was 700 days – and 17,000 bags ago.