Khalil Khamis Leads by Example
Khalil Khamis has a steady gaze and calm demeanour that immediately puts people at ease. He sits in a booth at his restaurant and shares his inspiring story.
Khalil’s parents came to Canada forty-seven years ago as refugees from Uganda, escaping the human rights abuses and repression of the Idi Amin regime. They built their life here in Guelph, eventually raising three boys while developing a restaurant business —the very successful Diana’s in the downtown core. In 2001, they purchased their first Harvey’s franchise in Waterloo; the family now owns four franchises in the area. Khalil became involved in 2011 when he was twenty-three years old, after finishing his education in Economics and Finance at the University of Guelph.
That year, Khalil organized his first charity BBQ in front of Guelph General Hospital, selling well over 400 burgers and donating the proceeds to the Hospital Foundation. A few years later, his friend, Jay Elinesky, a member of the Foundation board, took him on a tour of the Hospital and he became aware of the continuing great need for community support. Khalil was surprised to learn that every piece of equipment used in the direct care of patients at Guelph General is community-funded.
Khalil joined the Hospital’s Foundation Board of Directors last year and now is very much involved in the Foundation’s most ambitious community fundraising campaign. The campaign, named Together, We Care, will expand the Emergency Department and much-needed, dedicated spaces for mental health and addictions care; update aging equipment and purchase innovative technologies; and reimagine the Special Care Nursery.
Khalil is a strong advocate for the Hospital but doesn’t restrict his philanthropy. He has been involved in organizing a golf tournament to benefit the Aga Khan Foundation over the past three years, and he regularly contributes to Guelph area’s catholic schools Relay for Life fundraiser by holding a BBQ at the event.
Khalil speaks of the importance of community and how much he values Guelph for its small-town feel, its many opportunities, and the camaraderie that exists in the business community here. He is grateful for the place that gave his parents a second home and welcomed them so warmly.
Khalil says that giving is important, “You have to give to get.” But he doesn’t mean material wealth: he’s talking about happiness and fulfillment and belonging. “You don’t have to give money, to give back: knowledge and time contributions can be far more valuable than simply giving money,” he says. “Pick your passion.” For Khalil and many others, Guelph General Hospital is that passion. In Khalil’s words, “We all need the Hospital at some point in our lives and the Hospital needs us.” Too true, Khalil, thank you!