By: Michelle Poirier
While the COVID-19 crisis brings anxiety and uncertainty, it is also inspires the best in people.
And that’s what’s happening in Georgina, as some residents have started initiatives to help out their community.
Steve Jacobson, former chair of the Jackson’s Point BIA, has launched “SOS Georgina,” a Facebook page designed to find ways to help people during the pandemic.
“I’m looking to fill gaps, I’m not looking to duplicate what’s out there,” he said.
Mr. Jacobson says one of the gaps in Georgina is the lack of face masks for residents, as well as personal support workers (PSW) in local long-term care homes.
He has received a donation of enough material to make 250 face masks and has volunteers lined up to sew the masks together.
“I know there’s a controversy over these cloth masks, but the reality is people like them and it gives them a sense of doing something and contributing, and it also gives people a sense of comfort to wear them. I realize that they are not a prevention, but they do stop you from sneezing and coughing all over individuals,” he said.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, recently reversed her position on people wearing masks after the U.S. Centre for Disease Control recommended that all Americans start wearing homemade cloth face masks outside to help reduce the transmission of the virus.
Dr. Tam says that if it is not possible to maintain distance, then “having an additional covering and a barrier to prevent you from spreading droplets to others is a reasonable thing to do.”
Mr. Jacobson also plans to help people with limited or no internet services to access federal benefits, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
“There are a lot of areas in Georgina that don’t have internet capabilities and there are also a lot of people in Georgina who don’t have computers,” he said.
“I have set up a small team right now of bookkeepers and accountants and we will go out through this page and we will reach out to help these people who do not have technology available to apply for EI or these government programs.”
Any residents who need help with applying for government programs will be able to speak to one of the volunteers on the phone and pass their data on to fill in the application.
Mr. Jacobson is keeping his eyes open for any other areas he can help.
“I will try and identify gaps that need help and we’ll go out there and find a solution to help the people,” he said.
What Mr. Jacobson is struggling with is getting his offer of help out to the non-connected community, the people without internet and computers.
If you know of someone who needs help applying for EI or other government financial help, ask them if they would like you to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, so a phone call can be arranged.
While S.O.S. Georgina is doing great things, it’s not the only community initiative to launch during the pandemic.
The Georgina Pop-Up Breakfast Club is a non-profit organization recently co-founded by Emilee Elliott, Yasmine Stetieh and Erin Brimble.
This organization was started to help feed children that were reliant on breakfast clubs at their schools, but are not receiving the food while their schools are closed.
“We started this program because we identified the gap left when the schools closed. There are so many students who rely on their school’s breakfast clubs,” Ms. Elliott said.
They are making the process as easy as possible; if your child or children are in need, you can send a private message to The Georgina Pop-Up Breakfast Club Facebook page, tell them your address and they will drop a bag off for you.
They are also taking the safety of the families using their services seriously.
“We work individually for purchasing, sorting and bagging and take great care to hand wash and sterilize in every step of the process. There is no in-person contact allowed. All deliveries are made to you as porch drop-offs, we will alert you when your package has been delivered,” they say on their FB page.
The contents of the bags will vary, but include things like cereal, pasta, granola bars, fruit, crackers and more to provide children with breakfast, snacks and even lunch.
In less than two weeks they have delivered just over 100 bags, and have 100 more ready to be delivered.
If you would like to donate to this program, you can send an email money transfer to email@example.com.
The Facebook page “#Caremongering / Georgina Working Together” is another initiative for residents who want to ask for, or offer help and information to residents during the pandemic.
Georgina residents may be self-isolating, but they have never been closer.