A life-long lesson in generosity and gratitude, and a chance hospital experience sparked a commitment of giving for the next generation of the Persad-Maharaj family who has, for the last 13 years, provided free coffee, samosas and treats to staff at Grand River Hospital on Christmas morning. But this family’s legacy of giving began long before 2007.
“This was my mom and dad’s persona,” explains Davin Persad. “They always had people over at our house. They were always cooking for and feeding people. And when my mom was at the hospital, she was always worried about the staff. She would ask me to bring them coffee, bring them lunch from Swiss Chalet. And I did because it made her happy. This is who she was.”
While at Grand River Hospital to receive care in the renal program to manage her failing kidneys, Davin’s mother would ask him to bring in food and coffee for the staff and physicians to enjoy during her regular dialysis treatments.
“Then, after my father passed, my mother’s health declined,” explains Davin. “In 2006 she was admitted to the hospital for care and was supposed to come home just before Christmas. But the staff were worried about her safety and comfort, so she stayed in for more physiotherapy and care. On Christmas day, I got a call that her blood pressure was dropping.”
Davin and his wife quickly showered and rushed to the hospital that Christmas morning, leaving family behind. They arrived hungry and thirsty, and with $60 in his pocket, he thought he could grab a quick bite to eat and a coffee at the hospital.
“Nothing was open,” Davin remembers. “The machines were empty and I thought, if I am a visitor feeling like this, I wonder how the staff feel leaving their families on this special day to care for so many others, and not able to even get a cup of coffee.”
He got back in his car and drove down the street to one of the only Tim Hortons restaurants open where he purchased all the coffee that $60 would buy. He then returned and went floor-by-floor to hand out coffee to hospital staff and physicians.
Sadly, Davin’s mother passed away that Boxing Day, but her legacy of giving continues through her son, his wife and their children and partners. Each year on Christmas morning the Persad-Maharaj family have visited both campuses of Grand River Hospital, as well as Cambridge Memorial Hospital to provide staff working with refreshments.
“That next Christmas, in 2007 I called to arrange this for staff and we have been doing this ever since. We wish we could do this for all of the hospitals. We feel it is a small gesture but it’s a big part of our lives now. It is something that is keeping the memory of my parents going, it keeps my kids involved in the community and is just giving back.”
This year will look a little different with COVID restrictions in place, but the spirit of generosity of the Persad-Maharaj continues.