Why I Give Stories

Learn why giving back is important to Vino Hentsmogan

Vino Hentsmogan

Senior Manager, Retail Productivity & South Asian Network ERG

The reason why I am passionate about giving and helping others was primarily due to all the support my family received when we immigrated to Canada as refugees.

With very little source of income, we heavily relied on social assistance and support from many charitable organizations. I remember our first Christmas in Canada; we were excited for the holiday season.

While we don’t typically celebrate Christmas, the thought of gifts and presents excited us as children. In school, other kids raved about the different gifts they were expecting to get during the holiday season. I remember being very excited for them and expected similar gifts from my parents. As children, we didn’t understand the severity of the financial strains my family was going through at that time. My father was still back home tying up loose ends before moving here. My mother was unemployed and needed to raise the four of us. She would do everything she could to manage the budget, so that we had proper meals and proper clothing and that was her main priority.

Expecting presents and gifts was not realistic but we were young and didn’t know any better. I remember one day during the holiday season, I don’t think it was even on Christmas day, our mother came home with boxes of items. She had apparently learned from her friends that the local Salvation Army was giving out presents and gifts for families that couldn’t afford them.

To our surprise on Christmas day, the boxes had a set of Hockey Sticks, a net and some pucks. We were so thrilled to see the presents. I still remember how excited we were. As children, especially ones new to the country, we were thankful and happy for the generous gift. Sometimes, regardless of how large or small a gesture is or even if the actual gift is small, it means the world to the person receiving it. Some people have said, it’s only a couple of hockey sticks and a net, but for us it brought hours and hours of time together as family, joy and laughter. I think somehow this particular instant has been a reminder of how important it is to help others and pay it forward.

In addition to the above story, I have to say that my family has gone through a lot of hurdles in the earlyyears transitioning to Canada. When we felt like we had began to lay some strong foundations in Canada, my father was diagnosed with ALS. I was impressed with the level of support he received from ALS society of Canada, Sunnybrook Hospital and other organizations.

Seeing the challenges that I have witnessed, I promised myself that I will help and support charities and organizations that can make a diff erence in a person, couple or families life, including our four legged family members.

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