Every year, Buyatab participates in TechPong, a charity Ping-Pong tournament, with competitors from neighbouring technology companies in the local community. In order to be eligible to compete, each company has to raise a certain amount of money as their entrance fee that is later donated to a charity of choice. In the past, we’ve donated funds to STEM foundations and animal rescue and re-habitation centres, but this year, we decided to keep the charity very close to home and decided to donate our fundraising efforts to A Better Life Foundation.

A Better Life Foundation works to increase food security for women and children fleeing violence, street entrenched youth and folks living well below the poverty line. In partnership with Atira & BC Housing, they provide 850+ daily meals to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside through their Plenty of Plates program, employment opportunities, training and education through valuable private donations.

Our office participated in various fundraising activities including a bake sale, a vacation day draw, and a wine raffle. After months of fundraising, 14 of our Buyatab team members  took over a local restaurant to cook a three-course meal and serve it to members of the Downtown Eastside community for no charge. It was an incredible experience to be able to see how our fundraising contribution was being used, as well as see who was directly benefiting from it.

We began the evening prep with a meeting with Ash Mcleod, the executive director at A Better Life Foundation. We split into groups with some of the team heading into the kitchen to begin cooking the meal we would serve, while the others set the tables and prepared to greet guests as they walked in. The night was quickly in full swing and the restaurant was bustling while the team worked together to serve the three courses:

Cream of Tomato Soup with Sour Cream and Croutons
Penne with Alfredo sauce and Chicken
Double Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream

Throughout the night we had an opportunity to talk to the guests that came for the meal, one couple was out enjoying “date night”, some groups of friends were eating together, and others came alone and enjoyed the company of those that they met.

At the end of the night, we shared our highlights and what the experience meant to us. My personal takeaway was something Ash had said at the beginning of the night: “Some people walk in with their heads down, not looking to talk and look noticeably tense. By the end of the night, they’re smiling, and you can notice their moods lifting.” Another highlight which was shared by many of our team members was that everyone enjoyed the experience of working together as a team outside of our day-to-day work at Buyatab.

Plenty of Plates was a great opportunity for us to grow as a team outside of our office, while gaining a better understanding and empathy for our neigbours living in the Downtown Eastside who we may have perceived differently before this experience. It was worthwhile and incredibly meaningful to be apart of an initiative that provides a safe and comfortable experience, combined with a delicious cooked meal, to those who need it the most. To learn more about how you can make a difference, visit their website.

All photos taken by: Sam Gill (@zaza_obscura)