What happens to our most vulnerable citizens in a state of emergency?
For the most vulnerable members of our community, the impact of the declared state of emergency has severely exacerbated the food insecurity issues they face every day. “Self-isolating” and “Social Distancing” become impossible for those who don’t even have shelter. Many of our partner agencies have been forced to close, with a brave few working hard to provide dramatically reduced and/or emergency services only. It is now, more than ever, that our marginalized neighbours need help.
This is where the exciting story really starts to take shape.
During the widespread uncertainty and closures we are starting to see good people rise up to say they want to do something to help. The past few days my phone and Inbox have been blowing up. Folks are starting to call to ask how they can help, and agencies are reaching out to see what resources we have available to assist and to offer surpluses that they have.
Being Safe, Smart and Wise
In these extraordinary days of need we believe we need to be safe, smart and extremely wise in how we tackle the problem. In our five years of operations we’ve worked hard to bridge the gap between organizations that have surplus resources and want to help, with those that already know how to do it well. It has been our driving force. It’s in our very DNA to help others succeed with their mission to feed, house, support, and clothe our neighbours.
Our friends at the Kingston Street Mission have been forced to close their doors for the duration of the COVID-19 response period. This doesn’t mean their expertise or “street cred” have been reduced… it just means they can’t operate in the same way they usually do. This is also true for so many of our other partner agencies (huge shout out to the Partners in Mission Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Martha’s Table, and the Salvation Army who are still providing amazing services and working through the myriad difficulties).
Our unique position to bring people and resources together
Lionhearts has a significant delivery network and very close relationships with our partner agencies. We believe we are in a unique situation to bring together expertise, surplus resources, and an army of well trained and carefully screened volunteers. We are excited to announce that we have created an innovative and safe way to make a tremendous difference in the lives of those most affected by the pandemic.
Setting up in McBurney Park (a.k.a. Skeleton Park)
For the next number of weeks we will be setting up a mobile command centre in Skeleton Park for an hour every night to provide everyone who stops by with some great take home meal options, grab-and-go snacks, fresh fruit, vegetables, pastries/fresh bread, hot chocolate, warm clothing, personal toiletries, fresh socks/towels, and a point of entry (listening ear) to access other required emergency services.
In the next few days I’ll be working with a local restaurant, and Tulips and Maple Catering to explore how we can begin serving hot soups/stews/chili every night (they both reached out to offer their kitchen space and staff resources).
We are also now in the early stages of trying to provide simple/portable washroom services.
What will it take to help out our friends and neighbours?
There will be more challenges to overcome, and additional resources required to make this all happen, but I am truly excited to see Kingston’s response. It speaks to our resiliency, compassion, and the innate understanding that we are in this together.
I’ll be plainspoken about this next part. We’ll take a few of our reserve funds and some early financial contributions to get started, but we will need additional financial donations to continue to expand this project for the upcoming weeks. We must continue to be smart in only procuring products from HACCP certified supply chains. At this time, it means we are required to purchase supplies and restrict product donations. This is more expensive, but it is the only safe solution.
Please consider donating today to change the lives of our most vulnerable friends and neighbours. You can do this on the lionhearts.ca website donate page (specify the COVID-19: Street Project fund) or by sending a direct e-transfer to email@example.com and including a note about the COVID-19 Street Project.