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Giving Back from Afar: Four Ways to Volunteer

Now more than ever helping others may seem impossible or too restricted as many people are staying home and social distancing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. But, with a little creativity and effort, there are many ways to give back and make a difference from afar.

For example, popular musicians are performing free concerts from their homes or other remote locations to raise funds for front line workers. Many others are volunteering to shop for groceries for the elderly or those at highest risk for contamination. We’re all witnessing people taking actions, large and small, that are proving to not only make a difference in others’ lives but that are bringing to light the true value of altruism.

Below are four examples of volunteer efforts that can make a difference in your community.

Give to a Food Bank
Consider donating food to your local food bank. With thousands of workers furloughed or unemployed, many people are turning to food banks for their next meal. The need for support has never been greater.

Donate blood
The need for donating blood has never been greater now that quarantine orders have suspended community blood drives. But, many donation centers are open and eager to receive donors to help replenish inventories that local supply chains rely on to provide life-saving support. If you are able to donate blood reach out to your local blood bank to see how you can help.

Tutor a Student
Schools closures throughout the country have forced students to now rely on technology to be homeschooled. But as great as this technology is, remote classroom learning can be difficult for some.

Reach out to your local school or learning institution to explore what opportunities are available to help. Or, if you know a student who is struggling with their assignments or needs extra attention with homework, consider tutoring via Zoom or other remote video platform.

Support Your Favorite Charity
Now more than ever charity organizations need your support especially as many of their traditional donor sources have been stalled by the pandemic. As a long time supporter of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), BG Capital Group Chairman Bobby Genovese knows first hand the value of philanthropy through good times and bad.

Through his chairmanship of their annual Car and Boat Rally Scavenger Cups, which began in 2007, he has helped raise more than $16 million. “Our efforts will help the spectrum of what’s needed — from groundbreaking research and treatment to practical advancements like “chemotherapy backpacks” that free young patients from confining hospital stays,”said Genovese. “By working together we can help provide critical resources and support for pediatric cancer initiatives at SickKids. It’s not only my honor to have helped lead this initiative but I feel it is our duty to help support this very special hospital where children come from around the world to receive the most advanced treatments available, providing them with the best possible chance of surviving their diagnosis.”

Genovese is also a longtime supporter of the Vancouver- based Face the World Foundation, which has raised millions for a host of non-profit organizations in Vancouver, BC. In its 30-year history, Face the World has raised more than $19 million to assist more than 400 organizations devoted to everything from securing access to shelter and hot meals to contributing to anti-bullying campaigns and supporting music and sports programs for kids in need.

If you have the means, please continue to donate to the charities that you are most passionate about and encourage others to do the same. “Giving to others is something that I have done throughout my life,” says Genovese. “It is both a responsibility and a great privilege.”

Adapting to an Uncertain World

Never before in my lifetime has the world experienced a  more significant crisis than the one we are facing now — especially with this scale and breadth, such dire consequences.

As I write this, thousands of people have died — a number that, sadly, grows higher each day — as doctors attempt to treat the sick and dying while scientists race to find a cure. 

I want to give personal thanks to those doctors and nurses, caregivers and first responders — people working on the front lines and putting their lives at risk every day to help others — and scientists and researchers working around the clock to find a cure. All of their efforts cannot be celebrated enough. I urge everyone to support their local community in any way they can.

I am also finding tremendous inspiration by the many acts of altruism and generosity shown by our many colleagues and neighbors throughout the world and across every sector of the economy. When people unite in a common cause, great things can happen — reminding me of the power that we each possess to effect great change.

On the business front, companies both large and small, have closed their doors in a race to stem the tide of this worldwide pandemic. Hardly an industry has been left untouched by this devastation. The need to persevere through these difficult days has never been greater — to persevere with the knowledge that we will emerge stronger than before.

Within our BG family of companies we are working hard to support our team members by diversifying positions to preserve as many jobs as possible. Although most project initiatives in the BG pipeline have been slowed or halted, we are poised to resume with full force and renewed commitment once the all-clear has sounded. 

In the interim, we are utilizing this time to reflect and shed light on new opportunities and creative strategies for us and those in our world. For example, as we move through our annual refresh of facilities and infrastructure at BG Ocala Ranch we are taking inspiration from the neighboring World Equestrian Center that is slated to open next year. An unprecedented milestone for Ocala, this 1,000 acre, indoor/outdoor, world-class equestrian sports venue will be the United State’s largest and feature state of the art amenities that can accommodate numerous disciplines within the equine Industry. When complete it will represent an unparalleled economic boost for the region.

But, as bright a future as this signals, we are living in an uncertain world — one of the most trying times in modern history that is compelling us to face this challenge with intelligence, compassion and faith.We see heartbreaking tragedies unfold on a daily basis despite encouragement from our leaders that an end is in sight. And until the end of this pandemic we must continue to support one another, stay strong and safe, and never lose hope. 

That, I believe, is our greatest strength.

Paying it Forward: Bobby Genovese Gives Back Through 2020 Boat Rally for Kids Event

Please join us in Muskoka, Ontario as we gather in support of a world of possibilities for kids with disabilities at the 8th Annual Boat Rally for Kids, July 24 and 25, 2020

This exciting boating event raises much-needed funds to a variety of important organizations that support children in need. This year’s funds will be donated to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital — Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital focused on improving the lives of children and young people with disabilities.

The fun-filled weekend on Muskoka’s Lake Joe and Rosseau will start on Friday with the Celebrity Draft Party where Boat Rally teams that have raised $20,000 or more will have the opportunity to draft a Celebrity Team Navigator. The highest fundraising team will have first draft pick. The remaining teams will draft in order of funds raised. Then, on Saturday, the Scavenger Cup, one of my favorite events, will give Boat Rally teams the opportunity to embark on a journey following a series of clues posted at various stops along the way. Participants will also have the pleasure of meeting and interacting with some of the inspiring children benefitting from this event.

Without question my involvement in these two annual events has been one of the great honors of my life. 

Not only have they raised more than $25 million since the Car Rally began in 2007 and the Boat Rally in 2012 but they demonstrate how successful we can be in coming together for a common cause. I’ve truly enjoyed being involved with the rallies, and working with an amazing team of volunteers behind the scenes.

I’ve also enjoyed supporting Toronto Hospital for Sick Kids, helping to raise money for pediatric cancer research. 

Through raising funding, we are able to help provide critical resources and support for their pediatric cancer initiatives, from research and treatment to practical advancements like chemotherapy backpacks that free young patients from confining hospital stays.

Another top charity that I’ve been passionate about supporting is the Vancouver-based Face the World Foundation, which is dedicated to helping Vancouver’s less fortunate. 

This year’s annual Face The World Foundation Gala, which I’ve been proud to support for decades, will be held on May 30, 2020. In its 30 year history, this event has raised over $19 million for the worthy organizations that it supports.

Through grants, the organization offers financial support to local non-profit organizations whose services relieve poverty, provide medical, artistic or educational aid for children, assist with shelter, alleviate hunger, or assist those dealing with physical, mental or substance abuse.

The Dalai Lama once said, “our prime purpose in this life is to help others.”  There are many reasons people donate their time and money, though the act of ‘paying it forward’ is not a new concept. The phrase has taken on a larger, more impactful meaning as I’ve matured. Moreover, in today’s climate, social awareness is at the forefront of many minds. For businesses, pursuing philanthropic causes is practically a necessity for attracting both consumers and employees. While we know that many large corporations donate money to charities, it’s not uncommon for individual donors to promote causes they care about as well.  

On an individual level, if you can’t afford to donate financially, volunteering your time is equally valuable. Start a community garden. Become a mentor to underprivileged youth. Nonprofits are always looking for volunteers, whether it’s to feed the homeless at a shelter or to hand out water to survivors of a natural disaster, there are thousands of organizations that need support in a variety of ways that are not financial. Not only will you give back to your community and make a difference, but you’ll feel good about yourself in the process.