North Grenville residents are no strangers to the idea of “paying it forward”, so imagine how much kindness they can spread when it’s made even easier! Joelle Garneau, who was named Miss Leeds and Grenville 2023, is working on bringing a unique idea to the area. The “Kind as a Button” program will allow people to buy meals for neighbours who need them.
“Although I find it humorously difficult to explain, the button program is really quite simple,” said Joelle. “Individuals interested in participating will find two baskets at the cash – one with buttons to buy and one with buttons that have been prepaid for. These buttons are $1 each. Once purchased, individuals can put the buttons in the prepaid basket and, when someone is in need, they can use the prepaid buttons to buy their food.”
Joelle explained that the idea for the buttons originates from a Café in Hamilton called 541 Eatery, which is a non-profit, pay-it-forward café. From there, the C-Road Church decided to implement the idea in the Outpost Café in Prescott, which is where Joelle learned of it. “This prompted me to reach out to the Outpost Café to carry out this program in more of our municipalities,” she explained. “My goal is to implement at least one “Kind as a Button” initiative in each of the 10 Leeds and Greenville municipalities.”
Last year’s Nutritious Food Basket costing, conducted by the local health unit, found that when considering average rent and food costs, a typical lower income family could expect to be left with as little as $90 for monthly bills and other routine expenses, which is clearly not feasible. This is why Joelle knows there is a need for support locally. “Though [there are] initiatives to help those in our community who are in need, there isn’t a way the people can lend a hand directly to each other,” Joelle added. “This is a nice way people can come together to help those around them who may be struggling more than the eye can see.”
Community has always been important to Joelle. She believes that those who surround us shape us into the people we become. “You never know exactly what someone is going through behind closed doors,” she said. “I want to help build something that everyone can feel good about.”
The main cost of the “Kind as a Button” program is sourcing the buttons themselves. Joelle has taken on that cost herself, for the time being, with sponsors being sought. “Although I’ve done a call-out, we haven’t had any sponsors for the program,” she added.
Joelle was glad to be able to help both the C-Road Church and the Outpost Café get the program implemented in more cafés. “Their excitement gave me the drive to push, and I am very excited to see how far this program can go and how many lives it can affect,” she said. The local program is not quite underway as the buttons have not yet been received, but the hope is that everything will be up and running in a week or two.
Joelle is encouraging any cafés who are interested in participating to reach out to her directly by email at [email protected]. For those who would like to make a larger donation and receive a charitable receipt, the C-Road Church and the Outpost Café are able to issue those receipts.