This article was originally posted in POST CITY TORONTO on January 7, 2014.
You don’t often hear about investment bankers with bleeding hearts, but if anyone can change that reputation, it’s Vincent Gasparro. In 2004, the Willowdale resident co-founded Project Engagement, a non-profit that delivers six weeks’ worth of groceries to families in need.
Living in Toronto, Gasparro says that he has always sympathized with the challenges faced by the city’s working poor and wanted to do something to make the lives of Torontonians just a little bit easier.
“What we’re really trying to do is help families get a little bit ahead of their bills,” he says, “and six weeks of groceries can make a big difference in a family’s budget.”
Using his business acumen, Gasparro says that strategic partnerships are the key to making Project Engagement as lean and cost-effective as possible. To target families in need, he works with other established local charities, including the Salvation Army and St. Christopher House, which already have relationships with families in the area. The donations he receives largely come from his professional connections in Canada’s business community. In 2012, Project Engagement provided groceries for more than 350 families in Toronto, and they continue to operate with “virtually no overhead costs,” says Gasparro.
“He’s the most efficient person,” says Maureen Faire, the executive director at St. Christopher House. “He has so many responsibilities, but he’s really dedicated himself to helping his community.”
Working with Toronto’s low-income families, Gasparro says, has opened his eyes to the real challenges that hard-working people still face in this city.
“Actually meeting these families and seeing how something as simple as free groceries can touch their lives,” he says, “that changes everything.”