By SUSAN MINUK
Canadians are cautiously emerging from the strict restrictions of the global pandemic as Ottawa implements the next stage of the COVID- recovery plan.
Wearing a face mask is critical to its success.
In response to the global mask shortage, TakeCare Supply was created in April by a team of Canadian entrepreneurs. In that short time, TakeCare has sold more than 250,000 evidence-based, reusable face masks across North America.
Working out of a re-purposed clothing factory in west-end Toronto, the team employs some 150 people. The masks are intended for non-health workers with essential jobs.
“All of the factory employees are either first or second generation Canadians,” said Ilan Orzy, TakeCare’s public affairs manager.
On June 10, five community leaders gathered at the Lipa Green Centre, the hub of Jewish communal organizations, for TakeCare’s donation of masks to nonprofits and social service organizations in the city. The inaugural gift of six hundred masks went to Jewish Family and Child Service (JF&CS).
“The important part about our masks is not just that we make them and they are Canadian but we are serving the Canadian public with them,” said Orzy. “Our founders decided they were going to take the extra step and donate masks to agencies in need, especially front-facing agencies that give social services or other services to constituents in Toronto and in the GTA.”
Brian Prousky, executive director of JF&CS, expressed his gratitude.
“I’m grateful for the generosity of TakeCare Supply – they clearly have a social conscience,” said Prousky.
He said the masks are going to all staff and to volunteers, foster parents, and caregivers who work with youth and children.
York Centre Liberal MP Michael Levitt told the CJR: “We are getting to the very front line needs of our community.” He said he toured the factory last week.
“It’s a wonderful venture, really proof positive that when good people get together with good intentions, even in the face of a crisis, positive things can happen at a business, commercial and a philanthropic level.”
TakeCare was founded by Anna-Maria Mountfort, a Canadian accessories fashion designer; Kevin Vuong, a social entrepreneur and public affairs leader; and Larry Lau, a social entrepreneur and startup investor.
“The idea was to have a Canadian shop make these masks with Canadian materials from Canadian vendors, and produce as many as possible to better serve the community here in Toronto and across the country,” said Orzy. “We have even shipped to Australia.”
The masks have a filter pouch into which the wearer can substitute common household items, like coffee filters, dryer sheets, or dried baby wipes, for added protection.
“It’s an intimidating thing to wear a mask,” Orzy explained. “You don’t get to see people’s face or smile, so when people see the mask and it says ‘TakeCare,’ we hope that leaves them with a better image than what they might otherwise walk away with.”