Nompumelelo Moyo (LJI)
Driven by her passion to help others, Sharon Pilgrim, co-founder of Afro Canadian Philanthropic Initiative (ACPI) has touched and changed the lives of many through her acts of kindness, over the years.
This past Christmas, ‘Giving Back With Grayson’ project, which gave a just over one hundred personalized gifts placed a smile on the faces of children and families across Montreal.
Recipients of these gifts include ZiMA (Zimbabwean Association of Montreal), Project Chance, West Can Folk Performing Company and West Haven After School program. In addition, her organization also donated toys to Akilah Newton (Overture with the Arts) towards their annual winter Wonderland holiday event.
“We believe in the magic of Christmas; children should get Christmas presents and they should not wonder if they will receive one, ” says Pilgrim.
She says the project, which depends on the goodwill corporate and individual donors, has been running for five years and much of the donations were made to organizations without meeting the recipients.
However, in 2021 when Pilgrim met directly with one of the recipients, Women on the Rise and donated 65 gifts, she and her team realized that the personalized connection was much more meaningful.
‘Giving Back With Grayson’ is named after Pilgrim’s grandson and she says she wants to foster a practice of giving just like her own mother did for her and she expects her grandson to live a life of giving.
Currently ‘Giving Back With Grayson’ is being conducted only in Montreal but Pilgrim says they are working on having the same project replicated in Ontario where her partner M Taylor is based.
Pilgrim and her partner also run the Phoenix Project, which gives school bags filled with school supplies.
Several organizations and institutions in Haiti and St Vincent were beneficiaries of the project’s goodwill this year.
The hope Pilgrim says is to lessen the economic burden for low-income families in Canada as well as overseas.
Growing up, Pilgrim says her mother nurtured the spirit of giving at home because she practiced it. Despite being a single mother who had challenges of her own, her mother never passed a chance to help someone or give from the little she had.
Her advice always was that “God will provide,” and Pilgrim admits that principle worked because they never struggled or lacked in anything.
And according to Pilgrim, it’s exactly how she tries to live her life to this day.
She is a clinical nursing supervisor by profession and is pursuing a master’s in Health Studies at Athabasca University, yet she still makes time to look for donors to help the less privileged.
Her love for community work dates back to when she was in her teens when she was part of the Cote des Neiges Black Community Association and then later NDG Black Community Association.
When asked what she thinks still needs to be done in communities, she said collective giving would do wonders and more talk on financial literacy would enlighten people on how to build wealth and be self-sustaining. With the right knowledge minorities, organizations and communities would do so much more.
From her experience she says she can see most organizations have good leadership and ability to do more however she believes all can be achieved if organizations came together and worked together because “collectively we can be a force to be reckoned with” says Pilgrim. You can preach a better sermon with your life than your lips as evidenced by Pilgrim.
You can find details on ACPI and ‘Giving Back With Grayson’ on the following handles:
IG page: GivingWithGrayson