While COVID-19 continues to change the ways we gather, celebrate, and honour one another, it has not changed the way our neighbours step up to support each other in times of crisis.
United Way East Ontario kicked off 2022 by recognizing eight more incredible community builders who have worked tirelessly to make our communities safer, healthier, and more resilient. These people are community leaders and fearless advocates who have stepped up and demonstrated a local love that has not gone unnoticed. All this week on Apt613, you can read about these eight amazing individuals and organizations. Today: Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif and Top Shelf Distillers.
Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif is described as a “super volunteer” and has more than 16 years of volunteer experience. Dr. Alsharif is currently president of Humans for Peace Institution, a volunteer-based non-profit promoting global peace. He has a PhD in oral and maxillofacial surgery, and volunteers to work internationally to perform surgeries for children in developing countries.
Over the last two years, Dr. Alsharif saw the impact the pandemic has had on the most vulnerable, and took it upon himself to organize almost 200 volunteers in Ottawa and Gatineau to deliver food and medication to more than 800 seniors and people in need. They delivered more than 600 hot meals and more than 500 food and medication supplies per week.
Kids have struggled with their mental health significantly throughout the pandemic. To help combat this, Dr. Alsharif organized more than 60 Zoom meetings with children to listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and connect them with other professionals.
“I have a dream and it is to make this world better, and I understand I have to start from myself, I have to change myself and then maybe I can change the world, and we can do it together.” — Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif
Dr. Alsharif has a dedicated passion for working within diverse communities, with an emphasis on addressing a variety of social challenges people face. He knows from personal experience that it can be daunting and scary when coming to a new country, and he understands that many newcomers turn to their own ethnic communities for a feeling of safety and belonging. He provides them with support and solutions to help them feel more at home in their new communities by taking time out of his day to meet newcomers and refugees, helping them settle into their new lives and homes, connecting them with services, translating for them, and sharing employment information.
Most recently, Dr. Alsharif has been using Facebook and YouTube to connect with Arabic-speaking people in Canada to help them access resources and accurate information around health and COVID-19 regulations.
“During this hard time I understood that whatever happens in a small city who has a population that is almost 1 million has made us all understand that in this world, we are in the same boat and if we think together we survive together. It will hit everybody, and we will never be safe until everybody is safe.” — Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif
Another huge priority for Dr. Alsharif is empowering women. He started an event called “Women Empowerment Bazaar” that provides newcomer women with the help they need to start up businesses and initiate their economic and social independence. By supporting these women, he is helping to set them up for success in the workforce and community. Dr. Alsharif has been awarded the 2018 Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers award from the Governor General of Canada because of his influential social change impact, exemplary community service, and outstanding dedication to the community.
Top Shelf Distillers is a community-driven business in Perth, Ontario that actively seeks to build and support its community. The company has been an active community leader and supporter since its inception in 2014, recently launching TOP SHELF CARES, which actively promotes their community initiatives.
“All of the work that we’ve done, it really feels like small moves for change, but definitely purposeful moves. We always want to be able to do more and give more to our community.” — Sara Ainslie, Community Partnership Director and Events Coordinator at Top Shelf Distillers
Throughout the pandemic, Top Shelf went into overdrive to support the community by overhauling their production line to create hand sanitizer that was in scarce supply, learning how to make it as they went. They then gifted large quantities of sanitizer to those who needed it most, like frontline workers and vulnerable community groups. They also dropped off complimentary care boxes containing PPE and sanitizer to many small business owners to help them reopen following the initial lockdown, building in an option to gift a bottle at purchase point to ensure they could continue to donate where it was needed the most.
Top Shelf Distillers are a long-term sponsor of United Way East Ontario’s GenNext program and events. They are always a leader when it comes to advocacy within our region, and take action on important social issues like support for the 2SLGBTQ+ community and protecting our environment. Top Shelf has created their own initiative called #MoreTrees, which means that for every bottle sold, one tree is planted within 100 kilometres of the point of purchase. Recently, they donated 150 trees to Perth veterans and their families.
No matter what they are selling or producing, Top Shelf Distillers has purposefully prioritized local needs, whether it’s through donating, fundraising, advocating, or creating and distributing new products to keep our communities safe.
Know someone doing great work in their community? Nominate a Community Builder today.