What if you could buy Jam and DO GOOD?

November 19th is World Social Enterprise Day, a day to raise awareness about social enterprises across Canada and the world. These organizations, like Southridge Jam, exist to make a social impact and improve the lives of people by providing goods and/or services.  At Southridge Jam, we make jam to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and are affiliated with the Southridge Shelter in St. Catharines, Ontario.

When individuals find their way off the streets and have a home, we want to make sure that they are able to stay on a good trajectory and are supported by new friends and a sense of purpose so they can keep moving forward. Prior to March 2020, our jam production team was made up of volunteers and individuals who had recently transitioned from homelessness who were working towards their brighter future. Each week, in our kitchen, they would work to gain job skills, life skills and a kind community of friends.

Our job skills program is a fundamental part of our social enterprise and unfortunately, had to be put on pause this year. Still, jar by jar, we have continued to make jam in small batches with the help of a much smaller group of volunteer jam makers.

In addition to our job skills program, we have had to find other ways to keep moving forward as a social enterprise. There were many, many moments of finding new ways to do business and trying not to look back at what we have potentially lost this year. Instead, we have tried to focus on what we have gained in experience and resilience. The volunteers who staff our social enterprise, and our retail partners who sell our jams, have all been working hard to adapt with optimism to this new normal so we can continue to help the Southridge Shelter.

That said, while we have worked to adapt, we have been so grateful for the things that did not change at Southridge Jam this year:

  • Niagara peaches, strawberries, sour cherries and grapes
  • The sweet fruit smells in our Vineland kitchen once every week
  • The fact that our jam can still be purchased online and across Ontario at our partner retailers

This year we had some really great things happen too. We have been thrilled to not only be able to continue partnerships with most of our retailers but also welcome almost twenty new retail partnerships from across Ontario year-to-date.

Along with our new retail partnerships, we were blessed in October to receive a ten thousand dollar grant from the Wise Guys Charity that allowed us to move forward with our 2020 goal to add new equipment to our kitchen. It was a wonderful surprise because grants, like everything else, have been impacted by the events of this year. Having this equipment means a more efficient production process. More efficient means the ability to produce more jam in 2021, when we will hopefully be back on track with our job skills program.

So, as we wrap up our annual production cycle over the next few weeks, we are very grateful for the experience we gained this year, our giving volunteers, our amazing retail partners and the many jars of hope that are now sitting in inventory, ready to go home with someone special in the coming months. Someone like you.

Because Southridge Jam is made in small batches by our exceptional volunteers, who use only local Niagara fruit, we consider it to be an extra special artisan jam. When you pick up a jar (or two) at one of our retailers, to use as a gift, stocking stuffer or treat for yourself, please keep in mind that you are not just buying jam, you are making a difference.

“I believe that small actions, multiplied by many people, can make a genuine difference in the world.” ― Dan Barry

We call it the “do good jam” and with your help, our little social enterprise continues to march forward with optimism, hope and resilience towards our goal to disrupt the cycle of homelessness.

Wishing you hope and happiness and sending you love today, from the Jam Fam!