The Irish Harp provided lunch Friday for 160 staff members at two Niagara-on-the-Lake long-term care homes, courtesy of Cogeco Connexion.
Irish Harp owner Jovie Joki says Robert Rende, Cogeco’s coordinator of community relations out of the Burlington office, reached out to her to enlist the restaurant for their province-wide program to thank overworked staff in the sector hit so hard by the pandemic.
With Cogeco footing the bill for the food, the event was not only a big boost for those working at Upper Canada Lodge and the Niagara Long Term Care Residence, but also for Joki and her staff.
“This was very beneficial, having such a large group order,” she tells The Local. “We do try to do some specialty events, like St. Patty’s Day, or Mother’s Day last weekend, but this (third lockdown) has been particularly trying. It’s brought down our percentages quite immensely. We’re good on weekends, to some extent, but anything like this size of order really assists us.”
Rende says the Irish Harp was chosen on the recommendation of YourTV’s local programming and community relations manager Jack Custers. And the fact that the Harp is also a Cogeco cable subscriber made them an ideal choice locally.
“A lot of people have been hit very hard by COVID, and a lot of restaurants have been suffering,” Rende says. “This initiative was sort of two-fold. We wanted to support local restaurants during this time of need, and we wanted to reward all the long-term care staff that is putting themselves out there.”
Cogeco has been making connections with restaurants and seniors homes all across the province in the areas serviced by the cable company. Homes in Burlington, Chatham, Windsor, Sarnia, Peterborough, Belleville, Kingston and Cornwall have all benefitted from the program. In Niagara, Tabor Manor and Linhaven have been among those previously receiving the lunches, dropped off by Cogeco and YourTV staff.
The staff at those homes have responded well to the donations.
“It’s heartwarming,” Rende says. “One of the homes I delivered to, the staff were knocking on the windows and holding up signs. They were so beyond grateful and happy to receive these lunches.”
The restaurant owners have also shared in that gratitude. “One in Burlington told me it helped keep their lights on for another month,” adds Rende. “The Irish Harp is absolutely thrilled, and beyond gracious, to be able to do this.”
In fact, Jovi was so thrilled to take part that she decided to top up each order of a chicken or vegetable wrap and garden salad with a sticky toffee for dessert, at her own cost.
The large order meant Joki was able to mobilize a few more staff members than usual during the current take-out only restrictions on restaurants. She and the staff were in the restaurant by 7 a.m. Friday to prepare the lunches and pack them into boxes provided by Cogeco. Rende made two runs, dropping off 70 lunches to Upper Canada Lodge, and then another 90 at the Niagara Long Term Care Residence.
Joki adds that being able to help out staff at the two homes was a big boost to employee morale.
“We love to help the community out,” she says. “We also donate to Newark Neighbours during Christmas time, contributing to their canned food drive. We really like to be a part of the community, and we really hope they enjoyed the food.”