A young but already influential organization gives back to its community

They only started in May and they still don’t have a name they can use officially, but this organization has already helped a community in need, right here in Park Extension

It was on the 1st of May 2020 that this started up, and this weekly food drive is getting stronger and stronger and all because of community involvement and the dedication of people like Abdul Waheed, his wife and others. What started as a way to break the Ramadan fast has turned into a food drive worthy of some note in this community. Many stepped up since its inception and community members and business owners alike.

How it started

One of Abdul Waheed’s friends offered to have 5 meals for his family, but he makes a modest living, so he refused but stated that it would be a good idea to give it (some food) to the homeless in the area.

Because of Covid-19 they weren’t able to gather in the traditional way to break the fast, so Waheed had the idea of distributing some meals to people in the community to continue a tradition that had been going on for five years, an event organized by Mehmood Ulhaq. It was he who paid for the food on the first ever donation which was on May 1st of this year. When Waheed posted on social media, they realized that there was indeed a need for such a drive in the neighborhood. It was after that point that the community came forward, donating of their time and their money, the money being raised for the food donations and their subsequent distribution.

Things only grew from there

In the 2nd week of May, 100 meals, the third 200 meals, and things obviously grew from there … this week, 132 meals from a local Subway restaurant.

After the first time, Waheed and his volunteers collected money from the community to pay for the food from various restaurants, even the volunteers contributing money to purchase goods.

Subway was paid 552 dollars for the food they gave, and Waheed and his volunteers distributed the food; they are getting nothing for free.

Subway was paid just over 500 dollars—money collected by donations from those in the community and abroad

A nameless charity for now

For the time being they are not using a name; it’s essentially a nameless charity, registered as a nonprofit organization, and no name is being used yet as much documentation is still to be gone through in order to procure a proper name, but the unofficial name for the time being is: PEX Helping Hands. They will officially use this name once all legal obligations are met.

Waheed hopes that this will feed more people and they wish to have other activities and fulfill medicinal needs for the community and other offerings for those who cannot take care of themselves.

Celebrating a 30th consecutive meal distribution

“Thanks to the generous financial assistance of our patrons and volunteers on Nov 28, 2020, we held the 30th consecutive meal distribution event,” says Waheed. “We dedicate this event to one of our founding volunteers, Helen Halyard Cube for her tireless, sincere services to the community. Helen is volunteering zealously with us since May 2020. Helen is a writer, musician, and arts administrator who has lived in Park Ex since 2012 and is happy to be meeting more neighbors recently, even in the difficult pandemic circumstances. We profoundly thank Helen for her great commitment and dedication to serving the less privileged fellow residents. We are lucky to have volunteers like her in our team. Saturday, we distributed 132 burgers. Burgers were purchased from the Subway on Jean-Talon East, while the oranges from Marche Janta on St. Roch. We thank both the owner of Subway for providing us good quality burgers at a subsidized rate and the owner of Marche Janta, for providing us oranges at almost no profit rate. The owner, Qureshi Shareq, has been collaborating with our free meals initiative for the past couple of weeks and is serving the Park Ex neighborhood in this tough time.”

Abdul Waheed and local volunteers at a local Subway on jean Talon Street in park Extension—a whopping 132 meals were delivered this past Saturday

It was on Saturday that the volunteers numbered many: Julia Pohl-Miranda, Helen Halyard Cube, Benoit Daignault-Pépin, Lee Lai, Samia Marshy, Trevor Rollins, Maxine Segalowitz, Kate Murphy, Ben Rowley, Maddy Alfred, Bill Warnock, Daniel Spade, Sorcha Gibson, Dorian Nuskind-Oder, Krizzly Man.

“We thank all our volunteers from the bottom of our hearts for their hard work and the great commitment to serve the community,” said Waheed.

People from as far away as Regina, British Columbia and many other places donated; these people donated because they are linked somehow to Park Extension with ties to the community and they give generously, stated Waheed. Waheed’s wife contributed free masks; she made them herself and distributed them, doing this even as early as May.

They hope that this encourages other businesses in the area to help the community, and they are in turn supporting local businesses, the charity is, by using their services to feed the community.

Helping hands indeed.