The unique story of Heart Tattoo Society began in the spring of 2020 and was formed during the societal climate of the lock down culture that was mandated as a response to the ascendancy of the COVID pandemic. Its humble beginnings were born in the kitchen of a pub on the Granville St corridor as a collaborative effort between Evan Reeks and Mackenzie Baxfield who shared a vision of hopefulness and a mutual desire for community advocacy during that most difficult period of time.The three year journey to where the Society now stands is nothing short of a remarkable one and is a testament to the perseverance of their vision against seemingly insurmountable odds and is a story that is still being written today.
Evan and Mackenzie met in the bustling hospitality and events culture just prior to the emergence of the pandemic and the ensuing restaurant protocols that were put into place due to Health Board recommendations. This lock down culture brought them to a crossroads in their respective careers, and it was then that they began actualizing their dreams to engage in meaningful community initiatives. Left with a small inventory of foodstuffs in their workplace and a kitchen to prepare meals, they personally contributed the requisite funds needed to begin an intermittent soup program for the Covenant House. This initiative would then shift its focus, and with the timely added financial support of the CERB program, the kindness of friends and family, it would develop into a daily prepared meals program. Evan the Chef would make 50 meals per day and Mackenzie as the outreach functionary would borrow her parents vehicle and distribute the nutritious meals to members of the community experiencing barriers to foodstuffs acquisition and in-home cooking. This three month long phase would see the base of their operations shift from the Granville location to their home and this was where the next chapter of the Heart Tattoo Society began.
In April of 2021, they both enrolled in a year-long course for a social work diploma at Vancouver Career College. Having both been inspired by their community-based activities they decided to broaden the scope and efficacy of their advocacy initiatives by way of formal educational measures. Their shared vision was to combine their existing skill sets in the food industry with their newly found advocacy strengths to create a new model of engagement, one whose motto was simple: to feed,educate and to employ.
It was at this pivotal time during March of that year that their professional relationship with Roman Ansari was forged. Through this confluence of intersecting dreams and visions and that chance meeting the groundwork for the Heart Tattoo Society had been laid and by November registered itself as a bona- fide non-profit. The stage was set, the vision had become a reality, and the Society moved out of the kitchen of its humble origins into the DTES Distribution Hub at 41E. Hastings, and the rest is history as they say.
And what a history it is, one that speaks to social justice, environmental respect, community inclusiveness, and the alienable rights for people to access nutrition and dignified engagement. We respect this earth through our commitment to large scale food-recovery efforts thus reducing unnecessary waste destined for landfills; this equation mitigates the negative effects of GHGs that are major contributors to our climate crisis. We then utilize these reclaimed foodstuffs through various prepared food outreach programs we've created, ones that employ persons with disabilities who previously experienced multiple barriers to employment.. These food programs deliver nutrition straight to the streets and the needs of our community which raises the health index and dignity of the community. It is truly a win-win equation beneficial to all and is centred on our respect for the earth.
Our trajectory of growth is a constantly evolving one as we continually reimagine ourselves to meet the increasingly diversified needs that we encounter. We hold the community sacred and are of the belief that collaborative relationships with other nonprofits, ngo's, community groups, and the COV are all equally important components in the spectrum of care in the DTES of Vancouver. From when and where our vision for ourselves as an organization began to who and where we are as a Society today is a narrative that speaks with a collective voice. A broad network of formal relationships, and the dynamic interplay of resource sharing made provisional through these cross-organizational bonds we have forged. Together we act on behalf of the betterment of our community with the belief that a caring society is measured by the compassionate actions of its members.
We have an immense gratitude and the utmost respect for all of the support we have received from a range of organizations that have played key roles in the development and shaping of the Heart Tattoo Society. We would like to honour them by way of an info-graphic legend that displays the growth pattern of our existence. In tandem with this historical time-line is an additional info-graph that depicts a summary of our successes in the arena of food recovery, meals preparation, and the cumulative positive impacts we have had on our environment, as we continue to feed, educate, and employ our community with our shared dreams for a better future.
By Gary Davison
Heart Tattoo Society is the process of applying for Chartable status.
We are currently in the process of recruiting New Board Members.
Our devoted chef and the man in charge of the very considerable amount of food donations Heart Tattoo Society is grateful to receive every week gets most excited when he can smell a new opportunity to expand their business - meaning ways to help the community - as well as a delicious dish.
Work and life are the same thing when they flow as they have been for Evan since stepping onto the path that HTS has taken him on. Putting all his past experiences into this endeavor has allowed not only Evan to realize that this, somehow, has become “the path of least resistance - despite the hardships”, but is also allowing Heart Tattoo Society to help more people every single week.
She has what we like to call “the Script” down pat, without losing the care - or the chill vibes: Mackenzie can tell you all about food recovery and how it helps keep people alive in 45 seconds, while handing out freshly cooked grub to hungry folks. Not only is she the beating heart of Heart Tattoo Society, she also takes care of the job nobody else likes doing, yet is an essential aspect of every thriving organization (i.e. data entry) and coordinates the growing number of enthusiastic volunteers.
With only around $1500 and the clothes on his back, Roman Ansari arrived in Vancouver seeking asylum. Being granted asylum and eventually a Canadian home in 2019, his motive was to pass on the grace he was given. His mission came to fruition upon meeting Evan and Mackenzie. Heart Tattoo Society began its journey in becoming an official non profit. The next milestone for Heart Tattoo Society is to become a thriving Charity, in which forming community and taking non-violent direct action to change society goes hand in hand. As Managing Director, Roman currently oversees the legal, finance, compliance, grant, mentorship and the educational sector for Heart Tattoo Society. He is also serves as the President of the Board to oversee the organization as a whole.