Aangen is a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to providing sustainable, solution-based responses to social injustices locally and around the world. It supports the community through innovative programs that address hunger and homelessness, creates employment opportunities for marginalized people, and help families in crisis. The money for these services comes from selling farm products, catering and cleaning services, and donations.
Being an independent social enterprise means having the freedom and flexibility to respond to shifting community needs, including helping other non-profits experiencing unexpected service gaps. As Gurbeen Bhasin, social worker and founder of Aangen, explains, “As part of our social enterprise, we cook meals for shelters, and we had a youth shelter call on us for meals for the youth over the last Easter weekend. It was also the start of the COVID-19 crisis, so the shelter was really stuck. We used the donation from the K.M. Hunter Foundation, along with a partial matching gift from another organization, and went to work to make it happen.”
The youth shelter they helped is Sprott House, an initiative of the YMCA GTA offering transitional housing for LGBTQ youth. While accomplishing this challenge is extraordinary in itself, they did it in addition to achieving their usual output of serving approximately 1,000 meals per month. Gurbeen is also steering the organization towards an employment training plan in which youth will play a central role in their service delivery: “Our goal is to grow our services to the point where we can hire youth and give them opportunities to learn work skills and gain work experience.”
As a social worker, Gurbeen founded Aangen as a self-sustaining organization that would not be dependent on funding from slow-moving government agencies. Instead, Aangen is flexible enough in its mandate to shift focus at a moment’s notice, often based on what it experiences from the people and organizations it works with.
This type of adaptability at Aangen is critical not only in today’s COVID world but especially as it relates to the most marginalized among us. This adaptability is at the core of how the K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation operates, allowing us space to actively listen to the needs of the people and organizations we support. “It’s our whole mission, to take people from a surviving mentally to thriving.”
For more information or to make a donation to Aangen, click here.