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Building community through collaboration

A stack of Famoso pizza boxes with a Take And Bake instructions sheet on top

Submitted by
Jasmine Nelson

Recently, RDC staff and faculty proudlyraised more than $11,000 and hundreds of items to support United Way Central Alberta. The workplace giving campaign coincided with related campaigns at the College and in the community. Annually, staff in RDC's Ancillary & Sport Services department spearhead a food and toy drive to support the Students' Association Student Food Bank and Tubs & Toys for the Red Deer Christmas Bureau. Two RDC alumni businesses also ran coinciding campaigns to support United Way: Stems Floral and Famoso Italian Pizzeria. Red Deer College staff and faculty included these activities in the campaign, providing many ways for colleagues to support United Way Central Alberta.   

Ryan Curtis (Business Administration, 2005, Millwright, 2012) opened Famoso Italian Pizzeria in July 2013 in the old Blockbuster storefront in downtown Red Deer. Flatbread pizza was somewhat new to Red Deer. The upscale menu in a casual atmosphere made the new restaurant a hit with families, working professionals, and young adults alike. For Ryan, the central Alberta business community has been a source of support, collaboration, and friendship as he has established his business over the last seven years. "We are very fortunate to have great relationships with many central AB businesses, including many outside of the food and beverage service industry," says Ryan. "In my experience, the downtown business community especially has been very supportive of each other. The Downtown Business Association has been a great support system for us. We are very thankful for Amanda Gould and her team." 

When United Way Central Alberta reached out to Ryan this year about creating a Take and Bake event, Ryan saw an easy synergy with what his customers were asking for. "There's obviously a lot of folks staying in and ordering takeout and delivery. While we hadn't previously done a take and bake kit, we thought this might be a great way to try it out," he says. 

This is how most of Famoso's partnerships are born, says Ryan. "Some of the best things we do/have done have happened pretty organically simply though like-minded people with a common goal coming together." The community enjoyed the United Way Take and Bake event, with Famoso fulfilling nearly 200 orders. "I think it's nice to help just for the sake of helping, so we try to say yes as often as possible when we get requests for initiatives like this. We can have so much impact as a business. By spreading the word via our social channels, we can broaden the reach. Connecting it to sales can significantly increase the amounts raised for things like Dine Out For Learning or United Way. We are always able to do so much more as a team than any personal commitments I've made in the past," says Ryan. 

Photo of a Grinch Tree available through the Stems United Way online shopAmanda Hadland (Hospitality, Tourism, Accommodations & Marketing, 2007) is always looking for ways to give back to the community. When it comes to supporting fundraisers like these, she also sees the impact that her business can have. As the owner of Stems Floral and Café, she has used her work to support numerous community fundraisers, including Rotary, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and Red Deer College.  

"Most of the causes that we have supported have honestly come from learning from others. I have met some really great people here in Red Deer, and if they ask me to step up, I do," says Amanda. "I like to align myself with organizations and businesses that think similarly to me – about the bigger picture, and about everyone succeeding together."  

Amanda's volunteer roles with various community organizations over the years have connected her to many like-minded people, and with these relationships come opportunities to support our community. "With the United Way campaign, I wanted to participate because it was part of something Red Deer College was doing. I said yes, because of the relationship we have created with each other. RDC has supported my business in many ways, including allowing me to be part of Convocation," she says. 

For Amanda, this is one of the benefits of supporting community organizations through her business. In addition to the impact she can have through Stems, there is also a benefit to her business. "These relationships are both community-building and business building. It is possible to do both at the same time, and we can all be successful by working together," she says. 

"Right now, during COVID, there are obviously major fundraising hurdles for non-profits, and that comes from the struggles we have in the economy. I think it's fair to say that many businesses don't have the excess cash flow to give. So, when these organizations come to me with ideas that can be mutually beneficial, which happened with the initiatives we were a part of this year, I am absolutely game. They recognized the struggles we may be having at Stems and provided me great ideas where we both profit. I love that. I love that, and I appreciate that they thought of me." 

For both of these alumni, giving back to the communities they live and operate in is a natural extension of the meaningful relationships they've built. 

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