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Employ To Empower

#CalltoEmpower COVID-19 Phone Call Program

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About The Program.

Imagine not having anyone – not even one single person to connect with during COVID-19. We are learning that residents in the Downtown Eastside community are currently facing challenges around mental health, loneliness and many have no friends who can check in on their well-being during this COVID-19 pandemic. After learning this, Employ to Empower is launching the COVID-19 #CalltoEmpower Pilot program, which provides 1:1 phone call support to socially isolated residents in the Downtown Eastside community.

For this pilot program, we will mobilize current entrepreneurs in the Employ to Empower program. They will offer 1:1 phone call support by reaching out to other socially isolated residents in the Downtown Eastside community. We know that the entrepreneurs in our program have fought through their past experiences with poverty and homelessness and are enthusiastic about giving back to their community by making these phone calls. (NOTE: Many also have social service work experience in their past.) We also have a strong relationship with the entrepreneurs as they have been a part of our program for the past year.

The phone caller’s role would include offering a friendly ear to listen to the current struggles of socially isolated residents and updating such residents about the local COVID-19 resources (including food, shelter, showers, and delivery services). We anticipate that the phone calls will be up to 30 minutes in length. Each program entrepreneur will receive a volunteer honorarium for every 40 mins of phone calls that they make ; they will also continue to get coaching on how to run their own businesses by professional Employ to Empower mentors.

Our key goal with this pilot program is to benefit ETE program entrepreneurs and the broader Downtown Eastside community through social connection. Entrepreneurs in our program will have the opportunity to: 1) Experience a hands-on, business crash course alongside professional ETE mentors, 2) Develop leadership skills, 3) Give back to the community in a meaningful way and 4) Earn an honorarium for their time and efforts to make the phone calls. As for the broader Downtown Eastside community, many socially isolated residents will gain a connection to a buddy with a goal to support their well-being and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Our approach is for peers, who have higher relatability and empathy, to support their own peers in the Downtown Eastside community, thus causing a ripple effect. It’s more efficient for existing members to reach their fellow peers rather than non-profits, who don’t have that trusting relationship established already.

In addition, we have provided a thorough virtual training program that will walk them through real life scenarios to ensure that they are properly trained.

Our Target Outcomes & Current Supporters


  • Six entrepreneurs are expected to be change agents by making phone calls to socially isolated residents
  • Six entrepreneurs will receive ongoing mentorship on how to build a business plan for this project with the ETE team
  • Six entrepreneurs are to experience an enormous sense of accomplishment
  • Six entrepreneurs are expected to work a total of 360 hours over the next three months
  • Six entrepreneurs expect to make 1080 calls in the next three months cumulatively
  • Up to $9000 in honorariums are expected to be paid to six entrepreneurs


  • James Pelmore from Foundation Wealth Partners and Scott Shaw, Co-founder of Sutton Realty, have helped fundraise the first $5000
  • Daily Hive confirmed a written article for press exposure (4 million readers per day)
  • TELUS is providing free phones for the phone callers so that they don’t have to worry about minutes
  • Eastside Works, a charity in the DTES, who will contribute project management their time to help us with logistics and administration

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