It all started with an angry treadmill workout.
Mary Veronneau, owner of Mary’s Comox Café, was simply trying to volunteer as a designated driver on New Year’s Eve this past December when she discovered there was no local organization like Operation Red Nose for her to contact.
When she found her D.D. efforts had hit a road block, she decided to call up some friends and take it upon herself to provide this community service.
“I was at the gym running on the treadmill and I was mad that there was no way for me to volunteer,” Mary explained. “I was frustrated, so the next day I called my girlfriend and asked her if she wanted to answer the phones and I would drive, so we said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I called everyone I knew and it exploded.”
By the time NYE rolled around that night, Mary and her friends had six cars on the road, including a 2017 Santa Fe and a full tank of gas donated by Sue Finneron. She posted her initiative she called “Mary’s Got Me Home” on Facebook to announce her driving services for NYE, which got many shares and over 28,000 views.
That evening, Mary’s friend answered the phone while Mary and five friends hit the road, driving over 50 people home from 6pm to 4:30 a.m.
“It was a really long night, but it was so much fun,” Mary said. “I haven’t laughed like that in such a long time. At the end of the night I wanted to give back the money that passengers donated to our volunteers, but they wanted to give it away.”
“My mother has cancer, and she’s mentioned to me that the cancer care clinic here could possibly need help, so I figured let’s give it back to St. Joseph’s and to what matters here at home.”
Mary’s Got Me Home raised $821.80 for Cancer Care at St. Joseph’s Hospital that night, which will transfer to the new Comox Valley Hospital when it opens this fall and was donated through the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation. This isn’t the first time Mary has tied her business to the hospital either; before she opened up her café in March of 2016, Mary used to supply Java Junction at St. Joseph’s with her delicious baked goods, and partial proceeds of Java Junction’s sales and rent goes to the Healthcare Foundation.
Mary hopes that her designated driving night can become an annual tradition for Mary’s, one that gives back to the community in more ways than one.
“It felt so good to do, and I still get goosebumps about it,” Mary said. “I’d love for it to become a Mary’s tradition at Christmas, and I’m looking forward to next year to do it all again.”
“I was just mad on the treadmill, and here we are,” she added, with a laugh.
Mary’s Comox Café & Baked Goods is located on Comox Ave.