North Shore businesses foster local love and social purpose

Every business owner wants their company to become a pillar of the community.

Lower Lonsdale entrepreneurs Anroe and Nicole Aserson, owners of O’Canadawg hot dog stands, are a great example. 

Community building through cleaning up

Littering was becoming a growing problem in their neighbourhood, and Anroe and Nicole wanted to help. Along with a fellow neighbour Alyssa, they took action.

When they heard United Way was helping residents mobilize to address local issues, they reached out and quickly got the support they needed to organize a community clean-up, offering free hot dogs to their neighbours in exchange for litter. 

“The community becomes family and a part of who we are as business owners,” says Nicole.

“If we can help create events and peak interest through our gourmet hotdogs, smokies and sausages… then count us in!”  

o'canadawg hot dog clean up north vancouver

Residents of Lower Lonsdale showing their local love by cleaning up their neighbourhood, with O’Canadawg.

Anroe, Nicole and Alyssa’s efforts are all part of the neighbourhood initiative launched in Lower Lonsdale last year, by United Way. The project aims to foster social connectedness from individuals and businesses alike.

It’s just one example of how United Way is helping build stronger communities on the North Shore. 

Businesses with purpose 

Neighbourhood projects aren’t the only way North Shore businesses are giving back.

On May 21 a crowd of local business leaders gathered at Capilano University for the Social Purpose in Business event. Guests came to learn how the social purpose movement is transforming business for the better.  

Hosted by the Social Purpose Institute at United Way, the event showcased how a social purpose business can help address a complex societal issue as a core part of its business model. A social purpose company is an engine for good, helping improve and sustain the community it serves every step of the way.  

coro strandberg mary ellen schaafsma and mayor linda buchanan

Coro Strandberg, Social Purpose Advisor and President of Strandberg Consulting; Mary Ellen Schaafsma, Director of the Social Purpose Institute at United Way; and Linda Buchanan, Mayor of North Vancouver, at the Social Purpose in Business event May 21.

To kick things off, City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan opened the discussion. She described how the most successful businesses on the North Shore are truly integrated with the local community.  

“Businesses are an integral part of any community,” says Mayor Buchanan.

“They have the potential to transform communities and society for the better. The possibilities for generating social change are endless. Social purpose is an excellent way for North Shore businesses to unlock the positive, meaningful impact on our community and show local love. ”

United Way partners share expertise

The panel that followed featured Andrea Harris of Vancity and the BC Co-operative Association, Richard Kouwenhoven of Hemlock Printers Ltd, and Lisa Dooling from Neptune Bulk Terminals, which supports United Way’s Local Love initiative on the North Shore.

“We take great pride in being able to contribute economically and socially to the community, as well as operating responsibly and protecting the local environment,” says Lisa.

“Being a good neighbour is one of our values, and we live by it in the way we operate and the decisions we make every day.” 

Local love taking root in Lower Lonsdale  

Meanwhile, to support more local love in Lower Lonsdale, residents and business owners are encouraged to apply to the Local Love Fund.

The fund has two categories: Small Spark funds are for community projects funded up to $250; examples might include a block party, or a neighbourhood clean-up. For bigger, bolder ideas, residents can apply for up to $1,000.   

Lower Lonsdale resident Ana Fortes plans to foster peer support for newcomers to Lower Lonsdale.

“Local love means empowering businesses and residents to make their home the best it can be,” says Ivy Staker, community engagement specialist at United Way of the Lower Mainland.  

However North Shore residents want to improve their community – be they residents, business owners, or both – they can find a way with United Way.  


Live in Lower Lonsdale? To find out how you can join our neighbourhood project, get in touch!

Want more information on what social purpose can mean for your business? Contact the Social Purpose Institute.