Community-builders in COVID-19: Paul's story

Paul Jew - Smilie’s Village restaurant

Community-builders in COVID-19: Paul's story

Join the millions of people around the world who are choosing to spread a little bit of joy and seeking to amplify the connections that are happening, in neighbourhoods and communities, despite the distance we find between ourselves these days. 

We are watching as community members share acts of kindness, generosity and ways to connect – amidst this crisis. Let’s showcase the stories of just some of the people in our community who have done community-minded acts. 

During these challenging times, here are some stories of amazing people promoting connection and going above and beyond to support their community. 

Four Simple Questions 

To learn a little bit more about some of the people making a difference in Strathcona County, we have reached out and posed four simple questions to those who are actively building community during the crisis. 

Q1: Could you tell me a little bit about yourself? 

My name is Paul and I have lived in Sherwood Park for 24 years. I opened Smilie’s Village at the location of a former steakhouse on December 1, 1995. Ever since Smilie’s opened up, I’ve been grateful for the immediate support and the regular customers who come here ever since. 

Q2: You did something very generous of spirit during a very difficult time for our community – can you tell me why you decided to offer free food to those in need? 

We have a few people who come to the restaurant regularly who have shared stories of difficult circumstances, such as job loss, the effects of the previous wildfires and now the coronavirus – when people tell me what’s happening to them I just want to help – by sharing food when families don’t have the money to come to the restaurant. I just bring it to them, and especially, like now, in the case of situations where people are stuck at home. 

Why did I post on Facebook, offering to provide free food for those truly in need? I was inspired by a man who posted on Facebook Marketplace who was giving out free toilet paper to those who really needed it. I thought, “I can do that, too”, for those who need food and may not have the money to pay for it and need a good meal. 

Q3: Can you tell me what community means to you? (follow up: What inspires you about our community?) 

This is my community, this is my place, where I do business, this is my home. When I lived in Edmonton, I didn’t know my neighbours. When he moved to Sherwood Park in 1996, I felt welcomed and it is so friendly. People look out for you. 

For example, I will come outside sometimes and see my driveway has been cleaned – it's done anonymously, and people do these things for each other. That’s what it’s like here. 

At my business, customers are no longer customers, they’re friends. 

If there’s anything I can do for this community, I will. I love this place. 

Q4: If you could ask fellow Canadians to do one community-minded thing during this crisis, what would it be? 

Help each other out as much as you can. For those in quarantine, stay at home. If you’re quarantined, make sure you exercise more and stay healthy. 

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