Local non-profit receives Big Hearts Initiative award


In May, the Government of Ontario launched its Small Businesses, Big Hearts Initiative—a campaign designed to recognize the remarkable ways Ontario small businesses and other organizations have stepped up and supported their local communities throughout COVID-19, even when they themselves were struggling with adapting to challenges caused by the pandemic.

  Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker (right) presented Small Business, Big Hearts                                 award to OSHaRE Executive Director Colleen Trask and                                                                     Board Vice Chair Patrick McDonough

The small business community has risen to help the vulnerable and those stuck at home, with countless people generously giving their time and resources to make and deliver food, run errands, and check-in on those who are isolated and alone.

The Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award, launched by Premier Ford and Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria, solicits stories of small businesses across the province who have shown true Ontario Spirit through their generosity, amidst the uncertainty and challenges brought on by COVID-19. Many of these businesses have altered their business models and paid it forward, providing inspiration and creating hope in their local communities.

“We are absolutely thrilled with this award,” said Colleen Trask, OShare Executive Director, “it was so unexpected and is so appreciated.”

“As I connect and host virtual roundtables with small businesses across the province, I’m also hearing about the tremendous generosity of our small businesses and the many ways they are giving back to their communities,” said Associate Minister Sarkaria. “In so many remarkable ways, these local heroes are demonstrating the Ontario spirit. OSHaRE are one of the recipients and on behalf of the Premier and I, would like to congratulate them on the Small Businesses, Big Hearts award.”

OSHaRE is a non-profit, charitable community organization that has come together to serve the people of Owen Sound and area by providing one evening meal a day for those in need. In March and April, OSHaRE served about 11,000 meals, half of the just over 22,000 meals served in 2019. OSHaRE also worked with Grey County housing to deliver meals to people in local emergency housing.

“Many Ontarians are facing pressures in ways we’ve never seen before because of the global pandemic,” said Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker. “OSHaRE helped our local community by providing services, resources and time to help our most vulnerable citizens. The Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award celebrates the remarkable small businesses and organizations, whose kindness help continue to build a strong and healthy Ontario during the COVID 19 pandemic.”

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The government’s Small Business Big Hearts Initiative provides a platform to highlight small businesses and organizations that have helped their communities and made life a little easier for their fellow Ontarians. Many small businesses have shown true Ontario spirit during this period, strengthening the foundation of our communities and helping Ontarians through this recovery.

If you know of a small business or organization that has stepped up and shown the Ontario Spirit in your community, send the story to bighearts@ontario.ca

The COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website enables businesses to submit details of any potential regulatory roadblocks as we navigate these uncharted economic conditions.

Ontario is also providing significant support to small businesses, including an investment of $150 million in rural broadband which will help businesses access a greater pool of customers as well as significantly expanding the Digital Main Street platform to help small businesses create and enhance their online presence, helping them to adapt and meet the challenges of today.

To take part in the Small Businesses, Big Hearts initiative and share a story, please reach out to the Office of the Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction at bighearts@ontario.ca.