Giving back to the community

  • Community donation: simple. owners Victoria and Toney Edmonds present Pathways Bermuda’s executive director, Gita Blakeney Saltus, with their $700 gift (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Community donation: simple. owners Victoria and Toney Edmonds present Pathways Bermuda’s executive director, Gita Blakeney Saltus, with their $700 gift (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)


Like most businesses, simple. operates for profit, but Toney and Victoria Edmonds also wanted to give something back to their community.

Pathways Bermuda was a no-brainer.

simple. has worked out of its Smith’s premises since 2018, when it opened as an “online café kitchen” offering “local, healthy, unprocessed foods”. Plus, the charity’s mission was one that simple. supported.

“Pathways believed in our vision before anyone else did and agreed to lease us their commercial kitchen so that we could get our business off the ground,” said Mr Edmonds who, with his wife, gave $700 to Pathways last month. “We both have family members who have dealt with or are dealing with addiction.

“We believe in Pathways’ vision around caring and assisting the people in our community with similar addictions, and so it was important that our first donation be made to them.”

The charity started in 2007 as Caron Bermuda.

A non-profit treatment centre, it offers on-island treatment for addiction to men, women, adolescents and their family members and also gives access to residential care at Caron centres in Pennsylvania and Florida. In 2014, it changed its name to Pathways Bermuda.

“The fact that Toney and Victoria, as a small business, chose to provide financial support was more than magnanimous,” said Gita Blakeney Saltus, Pathways’ executive director. “Their investment in our work, with others, provides a necessary value to our community and the return on their investment is ultimately lives saved and families preserved.

“The issue of raising funds in Bermuda continues to be of grave concern for all charities, and Pathways is no exception. We are so very appreciative of the donor support that we have received ... limited funding threatens our very existence to provide healing to the many individuals and families that we serve.”

Mr Edmonds got his start in hospitality at 13, washing dishes in a restaurant that “didn’t know my real age”, in his native Maryland.

That early exposure planted the desire to one day have a place of his own. After college, he worked in several restaurants in Texas, starting as a manager and working his way up to general manager and franchise business consultant.

“I’ve never been someone who enjoyed sitting at a desk all day,” he said. “Each restaurant taught me different skill sets and at each one I learnt something new and interesting about food.”

The opportunity to create it his way, “interesting and inventive”, came after he married his Bermudian wife, who works for a US-based (re) insurance company, and moved here.

As stated on the company’s website: “Our name, simple., completely ties into our philosophy — simple, good, local, unprocessed foods which we will prepare for you ...[We offer] a variety of breakfast pastries and snack options, as well as catering and lunch and dinner preparation and planning.

“All items are made in-house with locally available, healthy ingredients; we also offer foods made with vegan and gluten-free ingredients.”

The inspiration for it all comes from the people he meets, Mr Edmonds said.

“Through our own personal needs and conversations with friends, family and colleagues, we realised that there was a need for foods in the restricted diet space.

“People who live on gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low-cal and similar diets, want the same access to fresh-made foods that people on standard diets have.

“And why shouldn’t they? So we started with offering a full and varied baked goods menu and added a small meal preparation service.

“Since then, we have added corporate and event catering. Throughout the summer months, we also provide innovative options for boating events.

“My inspiration comes from the people who I meet and interact with daily, especially those who have very specific food needs which are unmet. It makes me happy to be able to create delicious food for people who are unable to find it elsewhere in Bermuda and do not have the time or ability to make it themselves.”

Nearly two years on, the couple are thrilled that the public has bought into Simple.’s way of cooking. Their recent gift to Pathways was in appreciation of that.

“We have been supported by our community and we believe it is important to return some of what we have been blessed with back to our community,” Mr Edmonds said.

Pathways fit the bill.

Ms Blakeney Saltus, the owner of Front Street florists GiMi, got involved with the charity in 2007.

Invited to sit on the board as a director, she then gained better understanding of the disease of addiction.

“I joined Pathways Bermuda in December 2008, on the heels of my role with the Bermuda National Gallery as director of development, concurrent with commencing a new floral business,” she said. “I was truly heartened to be asked to serve as regional vice-president, for an organisation whose work resonated within me and was truly providing a viable solution to a critical social ill.”

As detailed by the Bermuda Drug Information Network, the prevalence of drugs on the island is constant and the demand for substance abuse treatment remains high.

“While statistics generally indicate that only two out of twenty persons (20 per cent) that attempt recovery achieve long-term sobriety, we at Pathways see four to five out of twenty, 43 per cent, of persons achieve success.”

The most difficult part is getting people to understand that there’s no shame in walking through the door, Ms Blakeney Saltus said.

“I would imagine that all of us have an awareness or a personal story to share about alcoholism and/or addiction. The greatest challenge in sharing the message and providing education of the disease of addiction is the shame, guilt and stigma associated with the same.

“Families in Bermuda, in particular, due to our size and proximity with each other, carry the burden of codependence and enabling, primarily because we are so uncomfortable in sharing our ‘truths’ and do not want to reveal our pain.”

Learn more about simple. at simplebda.com, and Pathways Bermuda at pathways.bm

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Published Mar 18, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 18, 2020 at 8:04 am)

Giving back to the community

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