Despite being able to reopen again with tight restrictions this week, small businesses in Durham Region continue to struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic. A young Durham man is looking to take some of that financial weight off their shoulders.
He started a GoFundMe page to help businesses in the communities of Port Perry and Uxbridge, Ont.
“Anything’s better than nothing,” said Brad D’Ornellas, a realtor with Royal LePage Frank Real Estate.
Strolling downtown Port Perry is like a walk down memory lane for 23-year-old D’Ornellas, who says despite growing up and living in Uxbridge, he has spent a lot of time in Port Perry.
“Especially this area, it seems most businesses around here are small family-owned businesses,” said D’Ornellas.
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D’Ornellas can see the struggles that they’ve gone through the past 11 months.
“Since I’ve lived in a small town my entire life, I know what it’s like for small businesses, I’ve been around it forever. So I get a sense of how it must feel for them to go through this. If I’m in a position where I can do this and try to help out and raise money then why not do it,” said D’Ornellas.
His goal is to raise $20,000. D’Ornellas knows it’s ambitious but he hopes at the very least that he can help one business in Port Perry and one more in Uxbridge.
“I was thinking that the best way to help would be to try and cover a month or two of rent for a few businesses,” said D’Ornellas.
“Every generation of the business — and we’re the fifth — has had their challenges and this (COVID-19 pandemic) is my sister’s and my challenge,” said retail store owner Julie Brock.
Brock’s, which sells fashion and footwear, has been a staple of Port Perry for 140 years. Julie Brock has been a part of the business in one way or another her entire life.
Birgitta MacLeod with the Port Perry BIA says D’Ornellas’ efforts aren’t going unnoticed.
“Many businesses are still struggling, so that somebody thought about it now and wants to do something is a real boost for local business,” said MacLeod, Port Perry BIA Chair.
As for D’Ornellas, he’s planning on keeping the fundraising campaign page up until the pandemic is over and is encouraging businesses in need of a lifeline to contact him and apply for the funding.
D’Ornellas will pick recipients he thinks can use the help the most. He’s hoping to raise enough to give each qualifying business $5,000.