Grassroots to Non-Profit: The Evolution of Burlington Helping Burlington

Michael Desjardins started Burlington Helping Burlington (BHB) in 2023 as a short-term fundraising drive.

Five months later, BHB is incorporated as a non-profit organization and has raised over $20,000 and collected 8,000 pounds of food for its initial 91-day campaign, which went to eight separate charities.

Sean Campbell, one of the members of the initial group, spoke about BHB’s plans for the rest of 2024.

“This year we are going to have a little more of a more focused approach,” Campbell said.

“We're going to tailback a little bit on our charities that we're going to support this particular year,” Campbell continued. “This year we're going to support Reach Out Centre for Kids, Carpenter Hospice, Halton Women's Place, and the Compassion Society, as well as also doing food drives for the local food bank and Food for Kids Halton again.”

Campbell said the process of picking which charities BHB supports is currently more internal in nature, but he hopes it will become more structured next year.

“We talk about what charities are in most need,” Campbell said. “There's an application as well that we're working on now for charity support moving forward.”

BHB is holding a gala for the Compassion Society on May 11 at Hagerty Garage and Social.

Campbell said the gala is informal and will feature a DJ, a violinist, and a stand-up comedian.

“It's a corporate warehouse where members of the organization of Hagerty Garage and Social store their hot rods, Ferraris, and Porsches,” Campbell said. “It's a very white glove service, it's in a very climate-controlled atmosphere. I use this term loosely, but it's kind of a gentleman's club-like atmosphere.”

“There's a couple of golf simulators, there's a Formula One simulator, they have a restaurant, they have a bar,” he continued. “It's a really cool atmosphere.”

The Compassion Society is a charitable organization that collects and distributes essential items, like food, clothes, and hygiene and cleaning products to those who are less fortunate.

BHB is also working with AB Sports Bar, organizing an event to raise money for the Pinball Clemons Foundation. A fundraiser will take place on April 6 at AB Sports Bar, on Scottish Night.

“There'll be a meal served with haggis, potatoes, turnip, beef pies, and all the fixings from a Scottish point of view,” Campbell said.

“Scottish dancers, a bagpiper, all that sort of stuff will be in attendance, and that'll be in support of the Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons Foundation,” he continued.

The Pinball Clemons Foundation “provides marginalized and racialized youth with educational resources and options to integrate into the mainstream of society,” according to its website.

It has a mentorship, education, and youth development fund.

Another event that BHB is facilitating at AB Sports Bar is a fundraiser for the Burlington Food Bank featuring the Easter Bunny.

The brunch will be held on March 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will cost $24.99 for adults and $14 for kids.

BHB is currently in the legal process of trying to be recognized as a full-fledged charitable organization.

Jack Brittle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Burlington