Covid-19 has altered life in monumental ways.
Our social interactions, jobs and communities are forever changed and increasingly unrecognizable. But a bright spot in this dreary reality is the myriad of ways that people have stepped up to help their communities. From small business owners and big brands to philanthropists and private citizens, people from all walks of life have come together and asked themselves how they can be of service at this time. One such group is the growing list of volunteers behind the new non-profit organization, Conquer Covid-19.
At the onset of the pandemic, a group of six friends started chatting over WhatsApp about novel ways to help medical professionals deal with the PPE shortage. They found their answer in the most unexpected of places: baby monitors. The two-way communication devices allowed hospital staff to monitor patients while limiting their exposure to the virus. From there, this grassroots movement snowballed very quickly.
Conquer Covid-19 now boasts over 100 volunteers made up of doctors, lawyers, medical students and business leaders, a far cry from their humble beginnings in March. These individuals banded together to organize community-wide PPE drives to collect additional equipment for frontline workers, including masks, gowns and face shields. They also expanded their mandate to incorporate long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and women’s shelters. The organization’s meteoric rise is due in no small part to the talent, expertise and hard work of their volunteers, who have laboured tirelessly to ensure that communities across the country get the aid they need in these trying times.
It didn’t take long for their hard work to be recognized; a litany of corporations took note of all the incredible work the organization was doing and jumped at the chance to help. Volvo provided cars for volunteers who were driving across the province to collect and distribute donations and XYZ storage hosted the PPE drives. They also partnered with Global Medic to create hygiene kits for which Dove donated 15 skids of soap and Tampax donated 100,000 tampons. And when Shopify’s Tobias Lütke and his wife Fiona McKean donated $1 million through the couple’s Thistledown Foundation, they officially joined the big leagues.
But what really catapulted Conquer Covid-19 to the next level was the involvement of two beloved Canadians; Hayley Wickenheiser, Olympic medalist and hockey legend, and actor Ryan Reynolds. Wickenheiser, who is also a fourth year med student, got involved with the organization early on, helping collect donations and partaking in the PPE drives. Reynolds also answered the call, spreading word about the organization and promoting the “world’s most boring t-shirt;” a line of branded Conquer Covid-19 t-shirts designed to raise funds for PPE. To date, the non-profit has raised $2.1 million from sales of this shirt and monetary donations.
What differentiates Conquer Covid-19 from other organizations is that they take their lead from medical professionals, coordinating with them to deliver supplies and equipment that are needed desperately and immediately.
“We know that the government is stepping up and they will do a great job of getting equipment to where it’s supposed to go. The problem is the government is going to do it from the top down. They’re going to get this equipment to the hospitals and bring it back down. What we’re doing is we’re going from the bottom up. So, we’re going to those areas that the government can’t support today. We can be very reactive and very fast acting,” shared Aman Chatcha, head of Corporate Partnerships & Sponsors at Conquer Covid-19.
To date, Conquer Covid-19 has distributed PPE to over 180 sites in 54 towns and cities across five provinces. The organization’s achievements and the tenacity of its volunteers demonstrate the power of community and the magic that can happen when we band together.
For more on Conquer Covid-19, how you can help or to purchase the boring AF t-shirts, visit Conquercovid19.ca.