Calling on the generosity of all Canadians
(02 Oct 2017: Calgary, AB) The worst of Hurricane Maria came and went across Puerto Rico in a few short hours but she took with her the basic necessities of life. What she left behind was nothing short of devastation, basic infrastructure ceased to exist. What she couldn’t take was the spirit of the people, Puerto Ricans are strong and fiercely proud and the island will rise and rebuild, in time.
Enter R. Stewart Thompson, a Calgary-based philanthropist and business leader with strong ties to Puerto Rico. Since Maria laid waste to the island Mr. Thompson, Chairman and CEO of Valhalla Private Capital and BGenerus, has been leaning on his heavy Rolodex to provide an opportunity for a number of Puerto Rico-based tech startups and entrepreneurs to get back to work in an environment where the once simple task of finding a stable power source for a phone charger or laptop is now a virtual impossibility.
“Imagine trying to run your tech company with no power, and no way of getting your employees to the office. Imagine that you have no hope of completing projects, providing customer service, getting new clients, or getting paid because the infrastructure around you collapsed instantly,” said Mr. Thompson. “This is the situation for tech companies in Puerto Rico and this is why we must help.”
Mr. Thompson’s first call was to Aspen Properties, owners and operators of Calgary’s Edison Building where Valhalla has its offices. Within minutes Aspen agreed to provide 70 desks on a floor of the Edison for displaced Puerto Rican entrepreneurs and the idea of temporarily relocating these businesswomen and men to Calgary was hatched.
Mr. Thompson has established a GoFundMe mechanism to accept donations, however, at this time he is unable to commit that your donation will be deductible. As time is of the essence, our team is proceeding with our efforts to pay for the travel, food, and lodging for up to 70 employees of these companies to come and work in Calgary for a number of months. He established an initial goal of raising $50,000 and in two days 20% of the donation goal has already been achieved. The first group of 15 employees from 4 companies start to arrive in Calgary on October 3rd.
“I remember our own flood and how amazing it was to feel the community come together,” Said Mr. Thompson. “The memories of the devastation are fading but we all recall with pride how we banded together with support from our friends at home, across the country and abroad. I hope Albertans can see this as an opportunity to pay it forward to another community in need.”
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