York Region Chinese businesses teaming up to support SickKids

·3 min read

Established in 1875, SickKids is one of the top pediatric hospitals in the world. Its Chinese strategy team was founded in 2013 with a mission to inspire, engage, raise awareness and generate revenue from the Chinese Canadian community.

“When considering diversity, we look at not only representation on the boards and staff teams from our hospitals and foundations, but also from the perspective of fundraising,” said Conny Lo, associate director of SickKids’ Chinese strategy team.

To serve the community before asking for their support, the Chinese strategy team started a series of events with this attitude in mind, like sharing child health care information, research results and education information to the community through Chinese websites, social media and workshops in York Region.

“We launched our first ethnic fundraising initiative in the Chinese community and immediately received positive responses from many individuals and businesses,” Lo said.

Fotile Kitchen Appliances, led by Lydia Yang, wanted to support SickKids when it first entered Canada in 2014, but it was beyond its capabilities back then.

Yang was moved by the commitments of SickKids, to provide world-class care and prepare the next generation of leaders in child health, when she visited the hospital and was determined to support the facility when she was able to.

“Our small retail that started in Markham had been losing money for a few years until 2018,” Yang said, but as soon as the sales started picking up, she immediately contacted Lo to keep their promise — and do their best to help SickKids.

In addition to the annual donation, Fotile also plans to donate particular household appliances to SickKids buildings, employees and patients’ families.

“This is Fotile’s corporate culture,” Yang said. “We firmly believe that what we get from the community must be given back.” At the same time, she hopes Fotile will become a local leading enterprise and advocate for Chinese businesses to be more engaged in charity.

Another business from Markham, Skyview Fusion Cuisine, is owned by a SickKids donor and past beneficiary.

When Zeliang Yue and Michelle Zhao’s daughter suffered a rare heart attack in 2012, they hadn’t started their restaurant business and were struggling financially.

Without SickKids, Zhao said, they would not have been able to treat their daughter. The mother added they had no idea about the disease at that time and did not even fully understand the treatment when the doctor tried to explain it.

“SickKids specially assigned a Mandarin interpreter to our family,” Zhao said with gratitude beyond words, “fate may not be fair, but at SickKids, every child is treated with equal care, regardless of wealth, colour, language and social status.”

Yue, the child’s father, became a regular donor to SickKids about four years ago, and continued during the early days of the pandemic even when his business earnings plummeted by 70 to 80 per cent, because the hospital saved not only his daughter’s life, but the whole family as well.

It’s understandable the first generation of immigrants were busy with their livelihoods after arriving in a new country and had no time to take care of other things, Zhao said, but her daughter’s experience taught her that everyone in the community should try to participate in public welfare and give back to society to keep institutions like SickKids always standing behind every kid in need.

There are a lot of kind donors in the community, one of the goals of SickKids Chinese strategy team is to rally all donor together and showcase to the mainstream the great unity of the Chinese community.

“Team SickKids is a perfect program to take action now,” Lo said. The new donor rewards program allows all members to receive discounts at their favourite shops while helping create a brighter future for SickKids. For only $60, members enjoy exclusive Team SickKids rewards until Dec. 31, 2022. Offers include beauty and fashion, health, fitness and kids-related classes. More information is available at https://sickkidsfoundation.expancio.com/.

Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun

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