“Back in Italy, the family was inspired by their mother, my grandmother, who with very little money and six children to feed, would always bake extra loaves of bread and take them to the orphanage in her hometown,” said Rosanne Longo.
Three generations later, giving back to the community continues to be an integral part of the Longo family. They’ve continued the generosity as they grew their business from a single fruit stand to the chain of grocery stores called Longo’s many of us are familiar with today.
Rosanne, the Spokesperson for Longo’s and Chair of Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation, is the daughter of Gus, one of the three family members who started the business in Canada. Gus, along with his two brothers Tommy and Joe, founded the business that continues to be family-operated and employs over 6,000 team members and serves guests with 36 locations in the GTA and surrounding areas.
“We opened our local store in 1982,” said Longo of the Oakville location. “It’s always important to us to give back in the communities where our team members live, and work and our guests shop.”
Longo says the family gives back because they want to and is the right thing to do. They also take the approach that they need to contribute to the community and have the ability to inspire and encourage others by talking about the organizations that they support and why they support them. One of the organizations that the family supports, and continues their legacy of giving, is the Oakville Hospital Foundation.
Longo’s has two main ways that they give to the Oakville Hospital Foundation. One is Longo’s corporate, where the store sponsors community events. The other is through the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation, which began in 1998.
“The Foundation is dedicated to longer term commitments in areas where we can have a more significant impact in terms of donating money to the hospital or helping with an expansion project or sustaining a program,” said Longo. “That’s where the foundation comes in. It’s more about building on our legacy of giving and getting involved in areas where we could assist with long term impact.”
One of those more long-term commitments was towards the new Oakville Hospital and the naming of the Kidney Care Clinic, both of which the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation has made incredible investments in.
“Who doesn’t get touched by the need for a hospital in good times and in bad?” said Longo, explaining why they give to the Hospital Foundation. “There’s the happy times, with babies being born and people being cured of diseases, and you also have the sad times, but everybody needs to have access to a community hospital that provides exceptional care. For us, our vision of helping fuel happier and healthier lives, ties in with our corporate mission. That’s what we love to do, help families have happier and healthier lives.”
”Helping others gives us a sense of purpose,” she continued, explaining why the Longo family gives back. “I think now more than ever is a time to show kindness and help others where you can. What I’d say to families is no amount is too small. Start somewhere. It’s the act of giving back and when you do it collectively as a family, you’re teaching kids all kinds of valuable life lessons . In manycases, philanthropic families are trying to build a legacy of giving but it really it just comes down to doing something that your family believes in and supporting causes that have meaning to you.”
As the years have gone on, sometimes the Longo family gets word of some of the people that have been directly affected by their generosity, which makes their philanthropy all the more special.
“It’s always a humbling experience to meet some of the families who have received support through the organizations that we invest in,” Longo said. “The challenges they face always put things in perspective and remind us of the importance to give in ways that are meaningful and impactful. I am also grateful for some of the relationships that have resulted in our giving. Personally, I’m inspired by the passion that many of those in philanthropy demonstrate, especially the ones who advocate for children and the families they serve.”
For anyone looking to get involved with helping their local hospital, especially since hospitals need funding for essential equipment and technology that is not provided by the government, Longo says that there are more ways to do so than just donations.
“I always say that it doesn’t have to be monetary, you can give back in other ways,” Longo said. “It can be time, talent or money. Perhaps you’d like to get involved in an event – whether you’re participating in the event or you want to get involved in selling tickets. Or maybe you have a skill set that’s great for a hospital board, (then you can) sit on a board. There are so many ways to give back that don’t involve monetary if that’s not where you’re at right now.”
The kindness of giving has been passed down many generations for the Longo family and will continue to be part of future generations as they complete their corporate mission of helping families have happier lives.
“We help where we can, simply because it’s the right thing to do,” she continued. “We have been very blessed as a family to have had our parents come from Italy and be able to build our roots in Canada. They were able to raise families, access higher education and build a successful business within communities around the GTA. For this, we are grateful, and we share a responsibility to give back to those communities and to act as leaders to inspire others to give back as well.”