Meals Matter, But So Does Community
Port Hardy seniors group delivers 1,900 meals and counting to isolated members: an update on the local meal program.
Creating a community can often start around food, and then grow to so much more.
That’s the case for a Port Hardy seniors society that, with the help of United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island, is doing everything it can to keep the community it fostered together while people self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last three years, the society has grown from having 70 members to 220. It became more than an opportunity to gather and have a meal.
“When we first started doing this, we always thought that food was the most important thing, but it wasn’t,” says Rosaline Glynn, board chair of the society. “It was the connection and the being together.”
“We’re fairly remote … and most people’s kids don’t live here, so there are a lot of widows, people on their own. So we fostered the idea that Hardy Bay Seniors is really your family. And that’s what we’re trying to keep promoting, what we’re trying to keep fostering, so we don’t lose that.”
Receiving a lovingly prepared meal is one way that the society is trying to show its members that they are not forgotten and that they are still part of the society’s family.
With a COVID-19 Seniors Response Fund grant and others from United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island, and food donations from Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes, the society has been able to provide more than 1900 meals since the start of the pandemic, with many of those including extra servings and groceries for more meals.
But the society hasn’t stopped there. It’s also used grant money to provide personalized gift baskets to its members, shopped for groceries and picked up prescriptions for members, checked up on them with phone calls, held Zoom-based exercise classes, and posts regularly on Facebook all to keep their members connected.
Despite all this work by volunteers, being apart remains difficult, says Rosaline.
“People tell me that they are getting lonely. People tell me that they really miss being together. There are small bubbles … most people are staying on their own, and that is sad.”
The community has also had several deaths – not COVID-19 related, but losses that happened in isolation.
“That’s been sad for us because most of them have died on their own in the hospital because nobody could be with them,” says Rosaline.
But the society continues to send out meals and love, doing all it can to keep their community going. And United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island is there to help them.
When you choose to donate to United Way, you are supporting the most effective charitable organizations where you live and helping your neighbours when they need it most. Please consider giving today.