By Megan Capp, Manager of Social Justice, Seniors and Housing at Archway Community Services
We are living in unprecedented times. Globally, COVID-19 swiftly and drastically impacted all of our lives. We worry about our economic livelihood. We struggle with the mental health components of adjusting to our new reality. Our children are impacted. Events have been cancelled, with many missing out on coming of age celebrations associated with graduation. We worry about loved ones who may have existing health conditions which increase their vulnerability.
We are curious about this virus. We question how we can best keep ourselves and each other safe. As we struggle with these important issues, individuals in our community and beyond experience the amplified effects of social injustice that such a crisis brings. Domestic violence rates are expected to increase drastically, those experiencing homelessness are concerned with the logistics of quarantining, and those with limited food dollars are driven into food insecurity. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities in our social safety net, both locally and globally.
We are scared. Globally, xenophobia and overt racism have increased. We have witnessed in our own community, from empty food aisles, supply hoarding, and price gouging, that we are not immune to fear based responses. We are being significantly tested by this crisis.
Within this climate of fear and uncertainty there is opportunity. This unprecedented event has the potential to profoundly reshape our commitment to each other. We have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to social justice principles of equity and inclusion for all of our community members, especially those that have been traditionally pushed to the margins of society. During this particular crisis a key focus area must be caring for our vulnerable seniors. We know that this virus does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, or socioeconomic status, however, the reality is that seniors are the most likely to experience devastating consequences.
Archway Community Services is a multi-service, non-profit agency which has been serving our community since 1969. Like many organizations and individuals around the world, Archway is daily confronting new challenges in meeting our vision of: justice, opportunities, and equitable access for all. With the gracious support of our funders, donors, dedicated staff, volunteers, and community partners we have creatively and innovatively met every challenge and continue providing essential support to those in need. New programming has also been rapidly developed in response to COVID-19, particularly around supporting our seniors.
We rapidly created a Mobile Seniors Outreach program to support seniors in need of basic necessities and/or support with technology. The United Way has generously funded, across the province, the BC211 initiative which, through an organization, connects seniors with volunteers who are willing to do grocery shopping or virtual check ins. Archway was chosen as one of the 24 hub agencies for this important initiative. As we respond to the immediate needs of our seniors, it is evident that there remains much work to do. For example, our Meals on Wheels Service, which delivers ready prepared meals to seniors, has recently seen a 65% increase in requests for service. Social isolation and loneliness – challenges for seniors in general, and particularly in this time of quarantine – remain amplified, which can have detrimental health impacts.
As our agency works to respond we need your support. Donations or volunteering of time are greatly accepted and make a significant impact in supporting our seniors and community. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here. We are in this together.