Struggling Ajax business owner gives back to front-line workers and their families
TORONTO -- Like so many small business owners, Ajax business owner Dishni Jayasuriya has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[It’s] been devastating,” Jayasuriya, owner of Glama Gal Kids Spa in Ajax, said. “We did pivot very quickly and successfully. We took our entire business model virtual.”
In going virtual, the franchise owner has been able to offer slime and paint workshops for kids online. But even as Jayasuriya navigated the challenges of change, she said she was thinking about others.
“I thought to myself, as our frontline heroes work so hard to keep our families safe, I needed to do something to show them that their families matter too,” she told CTV News. “I thought, what better way to support our frontline heroes than to put a smile on the faces of their kids.”
The ‘Your Family Matters Too’ initiative was launched, offering free workshops to the children of frontline workers in Durham Region, Markham and Scarborough. Glama Gal Kids Spa Ajax also provides activity kits to the families with all of the supplies they will need for the workshop.
Jayasuriya has been using the little money she has made during the pandemic to run the program.
So far, 150 families have been gifted a workshop.
“It’s an awesome experience for the kids,” says Amanda McCarthy, a critical care nurse at North York General Hospital, whose daughter Charley has benefitted from the program. “It kept her busy and just to brighten her spirits.”
Charley agrees that the program has been great, saying “there were lots of things that I liked in it. Glitter, unicorns and animals!”
For Jayasuriya, seeing the reaction of the children to the activities, and watching them connect with each other in a summer of cancellations has motivated her to keep the program going.
“I’ve lost a lot in this pandemic, but I also feel that this pandemic has given us a lot. It’s given most of us the luxury of time to bond with our families,” she said. “For our frontline families, that hasn’t been the case because they are working so hard for us.”
Glama Gal Kids Spa Ajax will continue gifting workshops to frontline families throughout the summer.
“These families really need us right now and if I can make even the smallest difference by spreading joy and positivity to these kids during this time, I think it’s absolutely worth it.”