Brampton Volunteers Helping Seniors Stay Safe and Appreciated During Pandemic

Hazel McCallion
Former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion receives a tasty treat from Brampton City Council. Photo credit: Yeshwa Younis

The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world is revealing serious flaws in how we’ve constructed society, and seniors are bearing the brunt of it. Many have lost retirement savings, are isolated and are at most risk of serious consequences from infection. Basic activities like getting groceries now has to be planned and precautions taken. Even medical appointments and procedures are being postponed. For many seniors, daily life during the pandemic is difficult and lonely.

While all levels of government continue to react to the health crisis for the broader population, it is heartening to see the needs of seniors starting to be addressed. The City of Brampton established a Seniors Support Task Force as part of their emergency preparedness plan. The work of this task force is important in co-ordinating the effort of volunteers, sharing important information, and providing essential services. You can find out more about this local program online at Brampton.ca/covid19 or by calling 311.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown commented that “Seniors are the ones who built our community, our city, and they are the most vulnerable right now. I think of my parents, my in-laws, my grandmother who is 106. We need to look out for them. If you have a neighbour who is elderly, please offer to help them with their groceries. They need our love and support.”

Seniors are being encouraged during the pandemic to stay at home and maintain physical distance. This is especially true for seniors that live with family members who are working and are in contact with other people outside of the home. For seniors who live on their own, volunteers with the City of Brampton have been trained in providing grocery shopping support. Volunteers will use gloves and masks to pickup groceries from local stores and deliver them directly to seniors at home. All arrangements are made through the city and volunteers all have a valid vulnerable sector police check.

Nikki Cedrone who chairs the Neighbourhood Watch Brampton program also volunteers with the shopping support program. She says the city provided her with gloves and masks and the training necessary to safely handle and deliver groceries. On here first delivery, she said “the city contacted here with a request and made all the arrangements at a local ethnic grocery. All I had to do was drive to the store, tell the staff who I was and the groceries were given to me. I notified the senior that I was on the way and he opened his garage door and thanked me for delivering his groceries. It was a lovely experience.”

 A delivery of another sort was also made to the homes of former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and former Premier Bill Davis. Mayor Brown in a Facebook post said that “Brampton City Council decided to send them some love today with the delivery of a personalized chocolate cake” and thanked OccaSSionS Treats Parlour for making them (see photo). Brown referred o McCallion and Davis as “two of the most remarkable senior citizens in Peel Region and Canada” who were “confined to their homes.”

For seniors and families in need, chef teams at local restaurants J Red & Co. Food+ Drink and Vesuvio Ristorante are making meals and providing them free-of-charge with supporters in the community.  They have already delivered over 5,000 meals. Jason Rosso from J Red said in a recent update video that “we are really happy that we can service our community, all of  our successes in the restaurant really came to us from the community in the good times, so in the bad times it is really important that we do the best we can to support our community, bring out food and take care of each other.” For more information, visit online at freemealhelp.com.

All of society will be dealing with COVID-19 for many more months to come and our resolve to continue and help each other out in times of crisis will be tested. Remember just a few weeks ago how our first response was to hoard toilet paper? Our better instincts eventually kicked in and now we see those who can afford time or money giving to those in need. We are spending time at home getting back to basics and figuring out how to stay connected. Reach out if you are in need. Reach out of you can help. We are all in this together.

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