A local business owner wants to inspire others to give back to the community in a time of need.
Sweetpal Chauhan is the operator of seven Shell gas stations across Victoria, as well as an owner of several other businesses in the region. He decided that in a time of panic due to COVID-19 it’s best to give back – which is why he is paying for more than 400 packed lunches and 130 blankets for Victoria’s Our Place Society.
“This is my home, I’ve been here 13 years, this is my family and we wanted to contribute back,” Chauhan said. “We’ve done this at Our Place for along time, but due to recent circumstances we had to find a novel way to give back.”
Chauhan also supplies funds for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner at Our Place.
As of March 17 Our Place had to close down much of its facilities, including seasonal shelters drop-in space, computer lab, courtyard, hygiene, and clothing area. It will, however, continue to provide three meals per day in the form of packed lunches.
Chauhan had initially wanted to see if staff could volunteer to help pack the lunches, but to promote social distancing instead is offering a financial contribution to so that Our Place staff will have the resources they need.
“It’s usually around 400 lunches, but if it goes up to 600 or 700 it doesn’t matter, I’ll cover what they need,” he said.
Due to the displacement of so many people as a result of the closure of seasonal shelters – and limiting shelter capacity to meet social distancing requirements – Chauhan also purchased blankets for people to use.
“I know people are in isolation, people have to move places so having those blankets is a nice gesture,” he said.
Our Place is grateful for the continued support of Chauhan and people like him.
“The response of community members like Sweetpal Chauhan has been so heartwarming to us in this challenging time. It really is incredible how Victorians rally together in time of need, and that they see people from all walks of life as part of their community,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place. “Our Place couldn’t serve this vulnerable population without the support of our wonderful and caring neighbour.”
Chauhan hopes that his actions will inspire other business owners to take similar steps to help their communities.
“I’m small, I’m just an operator,” he said. “I want to inspire bigger businesses here that this is the time, let’s step up and let’s work together.”