John Smee March’21

A Hand Up from the Community

By John Smee

“As a community we thrive as individuals, survive” says Jason Battiste of F.I.I.T Fitness ( formerly known as New Frontier Fitness).
And that sentiment has been put into action by Beaches Jr. A Lacrosse team who Battiste trains.

Since January, the lacrosse team has raised $25,000 for local business in the Birchcliff, Beaches and Leslieville communities through their Workout For Local iniative. The team was able to help 25 local business with a financial donation of $1000.00 per business. The team wanted to help as many local businesses as possible and did so by partnering with them.

The idea of reaching out to those businesses hardest hit and/or forced to close by the pandemic came from Jason Shuttlesworth the owner of Beaches Jr. A Lacrosse team and Beast Athletics an elite hockey and lacrosse training camp. “We have our office right on Queen Street” says Shuttlesworth.

“We see a lot of business is challenged. So we thought if there’s one thing we could do is give back, as a group, to the people who support us”.

When he asked Battiste if he wanted to be involved he immediate said yes.

In order to keep the players in shape during this forced layoff Battiste was going to have the players run.

Jason Shuttlesworth goes on to say “During Covid we’re trying to keep our team engaged and obviously we’re not competing but, you know, our brand is still connected to the community.

The players went to local businesses to sponsor them on a run held in January. Those same businesses were also nominated to receive one of the $1000.00 cheques to help with the monthly expenses.

The team also reached out to their fans for support through a go fund me campaign. “We would go out and ask our fans to donate $5 to help support local businesses. And you know, we’re up around 25 grand now that we’ve given out to local businesses” says Shuttlesworth.

The names of over 50 local businesses were entered into a random draw and 25 received a hand up towards their expenses from a grateful community.

One of those lucky local business owners was Dave Norris of Busters by the Bluffs. An even bigger surprise for the local pub owner because he didn’t even know he had been nominated as a business. “The current players put my name forward because I had sponsored the team in the past” he said.

Norris also mentioned what a pleasant surprise it was to have sponsorship money coming in the door instead of going out.

“We did more checks (last)” week” says Jason. “Every time we have $1,000, we give it to these businesses. We just go in and say ‘hi’ and ‘here you go’. And a lot of these businesses we have to force the cheque on them. They’re so nice and they’re so kind …They’re like ‘No’ and I’m saying ‘NO, you’re going to take this.’ These people in the community care about you. This is not our money This is not me writing a check. All we are is just a nice little vehicle, a positive beacon,” in the community.