When times got hard for small restaurants during COVID, entrepreneur sister and brother, Amelie and Vincent Nguyen owners of Anh and Chi restaurant on Main St. in Vancouver, came up with a great way to keep staff and guests safe while supporting people who were struggling in the community.
“Reservation by Donation” gives guests an option to reserve a table by donating $10 per person to a charity of their choice. Every quarter to half a year, the Anh and Chi team shortlists 3-4 community-nominated charities to support BIPOC communities, young people living with mental illness, homelessness, drug use, or food scarcity; seniors living with dignity; and/or refugees and immigrants seeking food and shelter.
Aunt Leah’s was one of those lucky charities. We are thrilled and grateful to Vincent and Amelie for imagining this fabulous way to support the community and thank all of you who voted for us when you made your reservation. Our gift totalled $26,960! These funds will go toward providing housing and support for vulnerable young moms and their kids and youth from foster care with life skills learning, emergency food and funds, education navigation, and employment training.
Everyone at Aunt Leah’s appreciates the Nguyen family story of survival and commitment – how they built a home in a strange country, their innovation, and their street smarts. As Vietnamese refugees, Mom and Dad arrived in 1980 and began the Pho Hoàng, the very first and most iconic Pho specialty house in Vancouver. The family has thrived with their business endeavours ever since.
There are clear parallels between the Nguyen and the Stewart family who founded Aunt Leah’s. The two families, in fact, were born and brought up in the same East Vancouver neighbourhood, attended the same schools, and took part in local community activities.
The Stewarts’ inspiration comes from their Aunt Leah, who took in people during the 1930s great depression and provided them with food and shelter. Sarah Stewart, Executive Director, carries on the tradition of giving people a way forward, with 59 staff serving 720 young people from foster care last year.
In May this year, we all met at Aunt Leah’s centre in New Westminster. On presenting Aunt Leah’s staff with the giant cheque, Vincent told us, “This is one of the best things I get to do!” Aunt Leah’s is honoured to receive this gift from Anh and Chi, and we’ll continue our partnership to build and support our community.