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Community Builders: Thirteen: A Social Enterprise and David Chun Yu Lao

By United Way East Ontario on February 2, 2022

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: Thirteen: A Social Enterprise and David Chun Yu Lao.

Thirteen: A Social Enterprise is an entrepreneurial program of the Parkdale Food Centre that provides youth who are facing barriers to employment with mentoring and real-world experiences to set them apart when entering the job market.

The program has mentored youth in accounting, social media, marketing, production, safe food handling, sales techniques, public speaking, and market etiquette. It provides skill sharing and education to youth while also creating everlasting relationships with mentors, which makes an indelible difference in their lives.

Community leaders work with Thirteen: A Social Enterprise to provide their time, resources, and expertise to ensure youth are set up for success. They give youth opportunities to build their social and professional network which will benefit them later in life when it comes to pursuing new opportunities.

“[Our team] has worked hard together over the years to really develop this program to support the youth in our community and create a community around Parkdale of youth that are really engaged and working towards the goals in their life, so it’s been fun and exciting.” — Meagan McVeigh, Program Manager of Thirteen: A Social Enterprise

Not only does Thirteen provide youth with support and education, but the relationships and bonds they create are also a valuable result of this program—leading to future success for these youth in the community.

It’s one thing to teach someone, and it’s another to form personal relationships where kids feel comfortable reaching out when they struggle. For example, Landry Kalembo, who is now Parkdale Food Centre’s youngest board member, joined Thirteen: A Social Enterprise in 2015. Landry has included the mentors he met at the program in every major accomplishment in his life and has reached out to them when he needed help not related to employment. Landry went on to get his Canadian citizenship and is a pre-med student all because of the support he received.

David Chun Yu Lao. Photo provided.

David Chun Yu Lao is heavily involved in providing his time to many non-profit organizations in various roles. He has accumulated more than 700 hours of volunteering and has raised awareness and thousands of dollars for research including Prostate Cancer Canada, Arthritis Society, Brock University, and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

David dedicates a large portion of his time and effort to work with student organizations, universities, public service recruiters, and CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) representatives. David actively mentors more than 100 CPA students in Ottawa and has created a well-known writing approach for the CPA exam that Canadian students use as a study guide.

“The reason I volunteer is because I truly believe that our responsibility as CPAs extends well beyond the office. Volunteering is a great way to share our passion, value and inspiration with others. I believe that everyone has the skill or experience which others can benefit from, and volunteering is a great way to share these expertises.” — David Chun Yu Lao

His detailed writing approach has helped more than 12,000 CPA students across Canada succeed at taking the exam. David saw a need when an abundance of students reached out to him on LinkedIn for help, so he took the knowledge and leadership he learned as a student to help them succeed.

David has been recognized for his volunteer work and commitment to supporting his community in the CPA industry and was awarded the inaugural “Be the Change” CPA Ontario Volunteer Award in 2019.

Know someone doing great work in their community? Nominate a Community Builder today.