For many Airdrie-area businesses, giving back to the community is as important as providing services and goods. Here are just a few examples of local businesses that care.
Blue Grass Nursery, Sod & Garden Centre
Although it’s actually located in Balzac, Blue Grass’s heart is in Airdrie.
“We really treat Airdrie as our home,” says marketing manager Lisa Silva. “The owners’ kids go to school in Airdrie and, as much as it’s a big city, everyone knows everyone in a way.”
Silva says that’s why it’s important for Blue Grass to give back to the community, “and we do that through many different organizations.”
This Halloween, for example, Blue Grass hosted the AirScares haunted house in support of the Boys & Girls Club of Airdrie, letting goblins and ghouls take over unused off-season greenhouse space. The club’s Drive-In Theatre events were also hosted at the business, which is located just south of CrossIron Mills.
Blue Grass holds its own Pumpkin Festival each year to raise money for Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH), raising more than $32,000 for ACH in 2014. Besides pumpkin-carving and hayrides, Silva says, a highlight is when they drop a 500-pound pumpkin from a crane onto a car.
“We also do lots of stuff with the Airdrie Food Bank and Airdrie Horticultural Society – we provide [the Horticultural Society] with donations and things like soil for their gardens,” says Silva.
“Airdrie is an amazing city – people are so devoted to helping each other out,” she says. “We’ve helped out in so many things, I can’t keep track anymore!”
Astoria Asset Management Ltd.
Managing commercial and residential properties can be stressful – on both sides of the desk – which is why Lorelei Talbot and her staff at Astoria Asset Management try to support the community as best they can.
“A lot of calls that come into our office are from people [who] need some kind of assistance … there’s a need in the community,” says broker/owner Talbot.
Astoria staff members have stepped up to the plate, arranging community garage sales to raise money for diabetes research, supporting such initiatives as the Boys & Girls Club of Airdrie’s Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying program, volunteering for Culture at the Creek and taking part in Relay for Life.
Astoria also sponsors an annual golf tournament that over the years has raised more than $133,000 for Airdrie Food Bank.
Talbot is an active supporter of Airdrie Economic Development’s SMARTstart program. “We work with a lot of small businesses,” she says. “The amount [of support] people get out of it is unreal.”
You’ll also find staff taking part in the Mayor’s Recreation for Life Run and Walk, which this year supported several athletic programs, including Special Olympics Airdrie.
“We trained at Crossfit every Tuesday,” says Talbot. “It was the most amazing team-building thing ever.” Many Astoria staff were inspired to become more physically active as a result, she adds.
BMO Kingsview Market Branch
One great way to introduce yourself to a community is to get involved. Such is the case with BMO’s two-year-old Kingsview Market Branch.
The branch hit the ground running in being a staunch supporter of community causes.
“We’ve been involved in a number of golf tournaments for Rotary, the Boys & Girls Club’s AirScares, the Festival of Trees, the Health Foundation’s gala event – we’re volunteering heavily for that,” says Michelle Mobarrez, BMO’s regional vice-president of the Northern Calgary Region, as she reads from a ‘laundry list’ of causes supported by staff at BMO Kingsview. Other supported causes include the food bank, Creative Airdrie and the Airdrie Public Library (APL) author series. BMO also sponsors the Amazing Airdrie Women recognition program, Mobarrez says.
“We work heavily on what’s important for our team members,” she says. “What’s important to our employees is important to us.”
One highlight every year is the United Way fundraising drive. Last year, Kingsview Market, together with the Main Street BMO branch, raised more than $4,200 for the cause, Mobarrez says.
“It’s our way to give back to the community,” she says. “So many of our amazing team members live in Airdrie. One of the big parts of being in BMO is being actively engaged in the community in which you live and work.”
WestMark Holdings Ltd.
As an Airdrie-based developer, WestMark Holdings is already dedicated to the idea of building community. But the Gerla family, which has run the company since 1989, never wanted it to end with houses and sidewalks.
“Not only is the entire business based in Airdrie … we’re deeply involved with the city, both as a company and personally as residents,” says Paul Gerla. “Our livelihood depends on Airdrie … and [we] care deeply about its well-being.”
WestMark has supported Community Links, Airdrie Housing, the Alberta Summer Games, the food bank and ARTember, and helped erect the centennial sculpture in front of City Hall.
WestMark also honoured an active longtime resident by championing the renaming of East Lake Athletic Park after the late Ed Eggerer.
“There are a lot of great things in Airdrie,” Gerla says, adding that WestMark tries to lead by example when it comes to community support.
WestMark is also a major supporter of Airdrie Public Library, donating $20,000 to allow APL to obtain the latest books and DVDs for its Popular Picks collection. “The types of things that get people through the door,” Gerla says, adding that once people visit the library, they’ll hopefully be attracted to the other services and programs offered.
“We think the library is a very important aspect of the city … and I feel libraries will become even more important in the coming decade,” he says.