15 B.C. businesses and others doing good during COVID-19: Free hotel rooms, car-share zooms and much more

Credit: Courtesy of Easter Seals BC/Yukon

Easter Seals BC/Yukon has joined forces with Atira Women‘s Resource Society to open Easter Seals House to women and children fleeing domestic violence during the pandemic

Our weekly series celebrates local organizations that are stepping up to help their community

Heading into May, many of us are cautiously optimistic that social distancing has slowed the spread of COVID-19 across B.C. Although we still have a long way to go before life returns to normal, we can take comfort in knowing that our efforts haven’t been in vain.

As we keep working together to flatten the curve, it’s more important than ever to share stories of those who have gone out of their way to support others. Every week, more and more organizations step up to help reduce the harm caused by the pandemic. To all of the front-line workers, essential services and businesses out there doing good—we thank you!

Annex Consulting Group

The Vancouver-based IT recruitment and management consulting firm has launched Annex Helps to recruit volunteers for essential services companies, nonprofits and charities battling the virus. Thanks to partnerships with fellow employment agencies like McNeill Nakamoto Recruitment Group and Mindfield, plus organizations such as Project Management Volunteers, more than 1,000 people are standing by to lend a hand. Annex also recently set up 52 tablets and iPhones for Burnaby Hospital’s ICU so patients can virtually visit family members. Email annex@annexgroup.com to volunteer or ask for help with the relief effort.

The Bloom Group

This nonprofit supports some of the most vulnerable people in our community, providing more than 2,800 residents, patients and clients in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with housing, health and social services. In response to the pandemic, the Bloom Group has launched a fundraiser for COVID-19 care packages containing personal protective equipment, personal hygiene products, nonperishable foods and other critical items for women and children living in shelters. Every contribution makes a difference, so click here to learn more and to donate.

Bosa Properties and Element Vancouver Metrotown

Element Vancouver Metrotown is opening its doors to health-care workers in the Fraser Health Authority, offering them a complimentary home away from home during the crisis. The 169-room hotel will give hospital staff safe and comfortable rooms to rest in between shifts, or a place to self-quarantine away from their families and loved ones. Vancouver-based real estate developer Bosa Properties is helping to sponsor meals for the workers and covering the cost of all room fees, taxes and on-site parking. Health-care professionals can self-isolate at the hotel free of charge for up to 14 nights.

Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society

The society, which offers support to new Canadian immigrants, as well as a place for people to give back to the community, has donated $30,000 to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. After making an online plea for funds, Richmond-based Wenzhou Friendship received pledges totalling $50,000. It used the rest of the money to buy protective supplies, including N95 masks, gloves and medication, for those in need.

Easter Seals British Columbia/Yukon

The charity is letting Atira Women’s Resource Society temporarily use its Easter Seals House as a transition house for women and children fleeing violent homes—a growing trend during social isolation. Rendered vacant by the pandemic, the property typically provides accommodation for families who travel to Vancouver for medical treatment. Easter Seals BC/Yukon aims to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, who often face poverty, unemployment, and isolation. Donations are always needed; click here to help.

Evo Car Share

Last month, BCAA’s Evo Car Share called on members to use its vehicles only for essential trips. Evo has since teamed up with health authorities across the province to support health-care workers, allocating 250 vehicles that are sanitized and fuelled up for their exclusive use. Through the end of May, with the possibility of an extension based on demand, more than 70 workers who are Evo members have been already been allocated their own cars. If you work in health care and would like to use this new service, you can register through your health authority without joining Evo.

Granville Island Brewing

When COVID-19 shut down B.C.’s film industry, the Vancouver-based brewery wanted to support its friends and neighbours in arts and entertainment. So GIB hired two local comedic actors and a film crew—and challenged them to create beer commercials without leaving home. The resulting quarantine ads will put a smile on the face of anyone who’s been self-isolating alone or tried to collaborate via Zoom. GIB is also donating to the Actors’ Fund of Canada’s emergency financial aid program, which offers short-term assistance to members of the entertainment industry. In the past month, the program has received some $460,000 that will go toward helping 600-plus applicants—three times more than in a typical year.

Herbaland Naturals

Through its Community for Immunity campaign, the Richmond-headquartered vitamin producer is donating boxes of Immune Gummies to health-care workers across the country. Herbaland has already given away more than 15,000 bottles, mostly in B.C., and now the company is turning its attention eastward. You can view the list of recipients here.

Mobi by Shaw Go

Cycling is a fast and convenient way to get around while keeping a safe physical distance from others. The Vancouver bike share service, designated essential by the provincial government, has stayed open for those who rely on it for transportation and their mental and physical well-being. With the City of Vancouver, Mobi by Shaw Go just launched the Essential Services Membership Program, a free 90-day pass that gives health-care staff, grocery store workers and others unlimited trips of 30 minutes or less.

Pink Ribbon Bakery

When the New Westminster bakery’s cake sales fell dramatically due to the crisis, it began offering DIY cupcake kits. The kits sold out every weekend, so Pink Ribbon owner Sheila Comer decided to show her appreciation by joining forces with Burnaby commissary kitchen YVR Prep, donating $5 from every sale to its meal program. Together, the two companies can provide more than 700 meals a day to shelters and single-room housing throughout Metro Vancouver.

Salt Spring Coffee

As a small local business, Salt Spring Coffee is no stranger to the havoc caused by COVID-19. Despite having lost much of its sales from restaurants, cafés and institutions, the Richmond-based company is showing its gratitude to front-line workers. Salt Spring has donated 1,000 pounds of its organic, fair-trade coffee to nurses and doctors working in the Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and Vancouver Island Health regions. Besides this generous donation, Salt Spring Coffee will be giving an additional pound for every five-pound bag sold in stores.

Telus Corp. 

Busy helping others since the crisis started, Telus recently launched three new efforts. First, through its Mobility for Good program, the telecom giant has distributed 10,000 free mobile devices and zero-rate plans to Canadians in need so they can stay in touch with physicians and social services providers. Second, via the Telus Vancouver Community Board, it has given $200,000 in grants to 14 charities across the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley that are helping fight the pandemic. Third, Telus has expanded its Home Health Monitoring so clinicians throughout B.C. can remotely track the symptoms of COVID-19 patients recovering at home.


Burnaby-headquartered Teradici offers remote work solutions for business, a service that is highly in demand right now. The company has found itself in the fortunate position of being able to help many businesses keep operating from their employees’ homes. With that in mind, Teradici thought it was time to give back by making a $35,000 donation to the Emergency Response Fund. Administered by the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Foundation for Public Health, this fund will help experts assess the province’s COVID-19 response.


To support B.C. small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers, the Vancouver-based domain registrar and Web hosting provider is giving away 1,000 free one-page websites, including a .CA domain and a custom email account. Because COVID-19 has forced many businesses to pivot to online, Webnames wants to help them get the word out about their products and services. No payment information is required to redeem this limited offer, and renewal is optional after one year. For details, check out the Free LiteSite for Small Business page.