In May 2020, GFL Environmental (GFL) launched its community charitable giving program, the Full Circle Project (FCP), across its entire North American footprint. The aim: To engage and build lasting partnerships with local charities that serve the communities GFL operates in as part of the company’s long-term commitment to giving back.
Despite the unprecedented challenges of the last twelve months, FCP activity is thriving. GFL staff across Canada and the United States have stepped up to support local charities as many contend with increased demand for services and restricted fundraising opportunities.
By the end of 2020, over CA$645,000 had been donated to FCP projects through 56 GFL branches, with 2021 projected to exceed the previous year. Over 50 branches in 18 Canadian provinces and US states have participated in FCP already this year, through 72 new and ongoing projects that span FCP’s seven charity classes.
With over CA$535,000 committed to the program so far in 2021 and more to come, here are some highlights of this year’s FCP projects and the impact they’re having in local communities.
Charities supported in FCP’s Animal Welfare class range from no-kill animal rescue organizations that focus predominately on dogs and cats to specialized shelters that care for horses and larger farm animals. Where possible, local GFL teams have been attending fundraising events and volunteering with organizations to help fix up facilities and attend to the animals.
In Campbell River, British Columbia, FCP funding has helped to sponsor the Low Income Cat Spay/Neuter Program, which cares for the feral cat population through trap-neuter-release systems, offers barn cat placement and socialization of cats and kittens. The program serves the town of Campbell River and surrounding Indigenous communities.
Freedom Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Kittrell, North Carolina, is unique because it caters to a wide variety of animals including large ones such as horses and donkeys. The sanctuary provides temporary and permanent housing for animals without safe homes and animals that’ve been neglected, abused, or whose families have fallen on difficult circumstances. FCP is donating to Freedom Ranch for the second year running, with this year’s funds going towards a pasture fencing expansion and pig barn restoration and addition.
Cancer and Medical Wellness
FCP donations have funded equipment, assistance services, comfort facilities and more to help alleviate the struggles of those living with cancer and other serious medical conditions.
In Hamilton, Ontario, GFL partnered with Cancer Assistance Program which assists cancer patients by providing free services ranging from equipment to transportation.
Leading this FCP initiative, Rick Denyes, director of ICI strategic development, explained how the program is helping to make a difference.
“The funds provided by the Full Circle Project are critical to helping vulnerable cancer patients and families in our community during a challenging time,” he said. “Living with cancer is expensive. The Cancer Assistance Program has been able to continue offering free practical and essential services like transportation, home health equipment and personal care items in safe and contactless ways making a tangible difference in many lives daily.”
The Sea to Sky Hospice in Squamish, British Columbia, provides free care to people with life-limiting illness as well as support for their loved ones. FCP is partnering with the hospice for a second year, with this year’s donation helping to purchase a reclining wheelchair for patients to access and enjoy the volunteer-built hospice gardens and mountain views. FCP funds are also sponsoring the Key to the Heart of Healing Gardens at Grande Prairie Regional Hospital in Grande Prairie, Alberta. When complete, the gardens will be a place for patients and families to relax, enjoy and promote healing.
This year, FCP funds have been allocated to a number of key conservation projects in Canada and the United States that help preserve and protect our natural environment.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, GFL has partnered with Wanuskewin Heritage Park to fund equipment for cleanup and maintenance of the traditional Indigenous grasslands at the site. Items purchased for the project include a specialized lawnmower and grass snipper.
FCP is also teaming up with College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, British Columbia, for an on-campus trail enhancement project to improve existing trails and install new ones that are accessible to all.
Other environmental projects include support for shoreline cleanup with Rugged Coast in Victoria, British Columbia, and the purchase of kayaks and canoes for Cape Fear River Watch river and lake cleanup operations in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Many donations in this category have gone to charities working to improve food insecurity in local communities. As a result of the pandemic, some organizations have seen an increase upwards of 50% in demand for their services.
So far this year, FCP has donated over CA$50,000 to local community food banks in Canada and the United States. Where possible, GFL employees have also given their time to help prepare and distribute food to those in need, with more to come as restrictions ease.
In Toronto, Ontario, GFL donated monthly waste pickup service and route planning expertise through FCP to Second Harvest Food Rescue, the largest food rescue organization in Canada, which is relocating their base to another part of the city. GFL staff also plan to volunteer at the charity’s ‘Feeding Our Future’ event, which prepares family food and resource kits for local children attending summer camps.
FCP funding is supporting a wide range of critical poverty reduction services in communities across North America. These include Mothers with Power in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, which assists low-income, single mothers with young children to achieve social and professional integration, and Majestic Hearts Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, that will use FCP funds towards reconstruction of a community basketball court in addition to their community foodbank.
First Responders and Veterans
FCP proudly supports a range of charities that serve First Responders and Veterans, as well as those that provide our communities with emergency services.
When a horrific tornado swept through the City of Newnan, Georgia, employees from the local branch wanted to help. Through FCP, GFL donated over CA$20,000 to Riverlife, a local charity that provides community assistance services including tornado relief and recovery.
FCP’s donation to Angel Flight East Kootenay, a volunteer-led program to fly cancer patients to treatment facilities in Kelowna, British Columbia, free of charge, will go towards maintaining operations for this valuable service.
In 2020 FCP established an ongoing partnership with Project Healing Waters in Greensboro, North Carolina, which brings therapeutic outdoor recreation to disabled active military service members through high-quality fly-fishing programs and other activities. With their philosophy of ‘Healing Those who Serve’ and mission to provide vital support and relief to local veterans, Project Healing Waters is a valued community partner for GFL and exemplifies the relationships that FCP seeks to build.
This class supports family-focused charities including organizations that provide development and enrichment programs for children.
Among the beneficiaries of FCP support so far this year is the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre, which focuses on improving the lives of Indigenous peoples in and around the Slave Lake, Alberta, community through culturally-based programs and services that respond to their distinct needs. FCP’s CA$5,000 donation has helped to fund the rich variety of programs and services on offer, including accredited alternative schools, daycares, youth services, employment programs, homeless shelters, cultural camps and life skills programs.
In Flint, Michigan, GFL is partnering with Whaley Children’s Center Independent Living Plus Program, which supports youth who ‘age out’ of the foster care system and must prepare to live on their own for the first time. The program runs a designated living facility for 16 to 21-year-olds to learn self-sufficiency and everyday life skills such as employment, budgeting and finance, and household management, that will equip them to become successful members of the community. FCP’s contribution will go towards purchasing workspace equipment such as phones, computers and tablets to help the young adults with education, resume building and more.
With volunteering an important component of FCP, some GFL branches have been able to partner with charities that their employees volunteer with and have even helped to build. One such example is the Miracle League of Lakeshore in Chilton, Wisconsin, a baseball league for local youth with mental and physical challenges, where General Manager Wayne Becker has been involved from the start.
"We have been able to be part of a league that truly does meaningful work, building bridges and removing barriers for kids to be kids,” Becker said of the program. “In the community the league members also went to work to build the first barrier free, accessible playground in the area."
Art, Culture and Education
From youth development programs to physical play spaces, FCP donations have supported a wide range of arts, culture and education projects in Canada and the United States so far this year.
Ottawa, Ontario-based Youth X Canada supports aspiring young Canadian music artists as they travel across the country visiting local youth centers and Indigenous communities performing, hosting workshops and sharing their experiences. Through the power of their music, the young artists promote positive mental health and encourage youth to discuss the issues that face their communities. FCP funding will help support the continuation of this program particularly as travel restrictions ease.
A 4-H archery program in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, is helping to nurture positive community youth development and engagement through the sport. Partnering with FCP has generated funding for updated equipment. GFL Kaukauna General Manager Tim Mueller and his daughter Peyton have been personally involved with the program for many years as volunteer coaches. Mueller said it’s been exciting to get his branch involved with the project and to see how it benefits local children.
“This project is important to me and the community because it gets kids into doing stuff outdoors and working with conservation,” Mueller said. “It gets them all outside and they all enjoy doing it.”
FCP will also be supporting the International Public Art Festival in Montreal, Quebec, which celebrates local artists and culture. As part of the festival’s special events, a community mural will be installed on the side of the building that houses St. Michel’s Mission, a charity that supports individuals through food insecurity and homelessness. Almost 60% of those who access St. Michel’s are from local Inuit communities. The FCP donation will go towards purchasing the materials and supplies needed to create the mural. GFL staff will help at the event by clearing all waste created from installing the mural, including recycling spray paint cans, and distributing food to patrons of the mission.
If you’re a GFL customer, you can participate in FCP free of charge by voting for your preferred charity class. Learn more and get involved at gflenv.com/full-circle-project.
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