Before the 2020 pandemic, the North Shore seemed like an idyllic place with a high quality of life. The Coronavirus came along and created a different reality – one in which many who live in this beautiful enclave have been pushed to the edge of their financial means and beyond. Karim Virani, who lives on the North Shore, realized that a growing number people within his local community were struggling to make ends meet, and were in need of help.
Due to a principle instilled early in his life by his parents, that one should always “sow where they reap”, Karim saw an opportunity to fulfill a long held dream to give back to his community the kindness he had received from them.
With this in mind, he brought together a team to launch a philanthropic venture called “Human-Kind”.
Its mission? As Karim’s daughter Alyssa Virani describes it, “Our purpose is to spread kindness and encourage kindness in the community. Something very simple, but often forgotten.” Realizing that most students in their community looking for summer jobs were struggling to find work in a pandemic economy, they decided to bring on a team of 5 post-secondary students as summer interns to get the project going.
“We knew that we were providing a mentoring opportunity for them, but also an opportunity for them to explore and understand their community better”, explain Lynda and Loring Phinney of House of Purpose, a lead supporter and one of the mentors brought in to help guide the students. Karim shared his vision with these interns and tasked them with studying the local community to discover pressing needs that Human-Kind could potentially address.
The interns came back with the idea of creating meal kits for families – surprisingly, in such a seemingly wealthy community as the North Shore, there are many families that don’t have reliable access to nutritious meals. The pandemic has only made it worse. The concept around providing meal kits stems from the idea that food insecurity often means relying on canned foods and other non-perishables. “We wanted to find a way of providing families with healthy meals made with fresh ingredients”, explains Alyssa. Further, given the emotional stress induced by food insecurity, they wanted to provide a means to bring families together. The interns understood that putting this together would require fundraising, and involvement from a key player in the food supply industry.
“I first approached Stan Fuller, the chairman/owner of Earls restaurant, and he just loved the idea. I suggested we talk with the president Mo Jessa – to try and get the logistics right”, says Karim. The interns began their presentations, and Earls was only too happy to get involved. With a partnership with Earls Restaurant and Bar, they started preparing to launch a program to address food security through the distribution of meal kits to families in need on the North Shore. “The interns also wanted to do something that would preserve independence and dignity, particularly with people that were accessing food banks or needing support for the first time”, explains Lynda. A healthy meal kit delivered to the ones in need, with step-by-step instructions for preparation, would ensure food security without compromising on dignity, while giving the families a shared experience of cooking and eating together. A brilliant plan, but how would they raise the funds?
With the help of a local artist, the interns designed a bracelet made of white Howlite and black ironwood beads. Howlite, which is native to Canada, and the wood beads, are both representative of the natural wilderness and the outdoor lifestyle of the North Shore. Online sales of this bracelet will be one of the fundraising mechanism to raise money for the initiative, and, to spread awareness – by buying a bracelet, you can feed a family. A powerful reminder of how simple it is to show kindness and support someone in need.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Human-Kind team this summer. It was an eye-opening experience for me, both personally and professionally. The experience provided me with business skills that can only be gained through experience, and truly opened my eyes to the many challenges facing many people in my community” —
Arden Thorne, Intern
support someone in need. Through a combination of social media campaigns, presentations, and guidance from various mentors that were brought in from a variety of industries, the interns were able to bring in more partners and sponsors. As the word spread, more community members wanted to get involved, from the artist at 4th St. Laser Engravers who hand-engraved the bracelet charms, to larger entities like House of Purpose, Neptune Terminals and Whitecaps FC. While, in the process, the interns got first hand experience on how to take an idea and make it function in the real world.
We asked Karim how the idea even began? “I think it has to do with my roots, where I came from”, explains Karim. Having moved from Africa to London and later to Canada at the age of 12, he wondered if there any people in need here in the West. He always had a passion for giving back to society, he felt that sometimes people need to be reminded of the power of kindness.
So, how can you help? The interns have set up a website at www.human-kind.com. You can go online and purchase a bracelet – that will buy a meal for a family in need. Alternatively you can make a direct donation to Harvest Project (link provided on the website), our community partner that helps identify families that can best benefit from this initiative. You can also buy a set of bracelets for your office team to help spread awareness and help feed a number of families. It’s that simple.
For more information please visit www.human-kind.com and follow their journey on instagram @humankindvan.