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Shivi Darubra and Nav Bhatia
Seneca graduate Shivi Darubra and Nav Bhatia, a.k.a. the Raptors Superfan, collaborated to give a burrito break to front-line workers at Markham Stouffville Hospital. (Photo: submitted)

June 18, 2020

Front-line workers at Markham Stouffville Hospital recently got a burrito break thanks to a Seneca graduate, her family and family friend Nav Bhatia, a.k.a. the Raptors Superfan.

“We wanted to honour the hard work our health-care heroes are doing every day to keep our community safe from COVID-19,” said Shivi Darubra, a graduate of the Public Administration graduate certificate program and CEO of The Little Blue Elephant Project, a mental health initiative she developed with the help of Seneca’s on-campus incubator HELIX.

Ms. Darubra’s family owns a Burrito Zone location in Markham. In an effort to showcase the mental resilience among small business owners and their will to thrive by supporting health-care workers, she organized the donation of 250 meals in partnership with Burrito Zone and Mr. Bhatia, who has been delivering food in his Superfan truck around Mississauga and Brampton this past month.

The event was attended by MPP Paul Calandra and Markham Councillor Khalid Usman.

“We recognize that a lot of business owners have experienced depression and anxiety,” Ms. Darubra said. “Not working for so many months has been affecting their mental health and I wanted to help businesses and individuals to show that we are still part of the community and that we all need to take care of our mental health by doing things that are important.”

Ms. Darubra is not the only HELIXer who has used her entrepreneurial resources, knowledge and skills to help her community.

In April, Seneca graduate Parth Patel adapted his HELIX-incubated online jobs platform Tazwiz as part of a partnership with the Ontario Long Term Care Association to help address staffing shortages in long-term care facilities during the pandemic.

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EMERGE Network Solutions and Arkaika Coffee are two HELIX ventures that have come together to provide free coffee to hospitals across the Greater Toronto Area in appreciation of the work being done by the health sector. EMERGE is also donating 150 face masks to walk-in clinics.

He and his team have since launched the TazwizCare Aid program to help startups and entrepreneurs with financial support and resources.

In the postsecondary sector, HELIX venture InStage has been working with Seneca to offer students virtual reality (VR) practice demo sessions for job interviews.

So far, each session has attracted up to 100 students who actively observe an interview simulation and learn the dos and don’ts in real time. As they watch someone practise interviewing for a real job, they get to ask questions and get feedback from experts in the field.

“It has been awesome to have the support from Seneca and to see how much Seneca cares about its students,” said Imran Mouna, one of InStage’s three co-founders. “Seneca is one of the only schools that we know of in the world that has made this kind of technology available to its students and it’s really something. Seneca is way ahead of the curve.”