The couple behind Cycho’s Buffalo Wings in Southport, Hanzel and Cyrus Platon, have started a Pay it Forward scheme in their shop. For $9, you can buy an Incredi-Bowl of food which will be donated to someone in need.
It’s a sad but widely acknowledged fact that personal hardship can lead to empathy for others, and that’s certainly the case for Hanzel and Cyrus. Newly arrived in Australia, the couple were international students, Hanzel completing her final registration as a nurse, when life-threatening complications arose with her pregnancy and the birth of their first child. With mounting medical bills despite health insurance, it was the kindness of friends that saw them through.
“As international students, we didn’t have any family here to help us out and we were not entitled to any government benefits,” Cyrus says. “Friends would come and leave food at the front door, and then we stayed with friends until we were through the worst times,” Cyrus tells us.
Now, despite trade in the shop being down by about 50%, the couple are intent on making it through the crisis while helping others at the same time.
Their efforts started close to home, broadening as time went on.
Employing four international students as part-time workers in their restaurant, Cyrus and Hanzel say that they have spread out available hours between their employees, but they also send ready-to-eat meals to their homes to see them through the tough times.
They have also donated platters of food to ‘frontliners’ – police, hospital workers in ICU and emergency to help them feel supported.
For the couple, their Catholic church group, the Light of Jesus Family, provides support for each other through good and bad times.
“When COVID-19 made things tough for the business, we brainstormed ideas with the group about how to survive and we came up with the idea of providing community support through the business,” the couple say. “Our goal is to provide 50 bowls a week, 25 each Tuesday and Friday.”
Financed by the church group for starters, the scheme was soon expanded so that customers could also donate to the cause.
When a bowl is donated, the donor can write a message of hope on a Post It note. So far, the recipients have been students who have lost their jobs and jobless who have heard about the scheme and come into the shop, picked up one of the notes and brought it to the counter for their bowl of food.
“So many people have lost their jobs,” the couple says, “so we hope that this initiative is supported for as long as we need it. If everyone gives something, there would be enough to go around. It also helps us keep our business alive.”