By Amy Stephenson

Change is a constant as COVID-19 presents challenges for many. But there have also been beautiful moments. Seeing humanity rising up to meet the needs of the most vulnerable has been an inspiring theme for Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC).

SCHC traditionally runs 40 programs serving all in the community. However, in line with public health recommendations, there have been some changes. The 11 sites have been condensed down to three that provide critical services: primary care, food banks, Meals on Wheels, harm reduction, mental health and addiction support. Staff are going in only as needed and maintaining physical distancing guidelines when on-site.

There has been a change in need in response to the pandemic. The food bank has seen a 20 percent increase in new clients. Socially limited seniors have become completely isolated. It’s all driving the staff and volunteers at SCHC to get creative to support the community. Debra McGonegal, the Fund and Volunteer Development Manager, shares the ingenuity the centre has been using. 

Going online is the answer for some SCHC programs. Certain group programs are using Zoom, Google Hangouts or MS Teams to provide support. The clinics are leveraging the Ontario Telehealth Network and phone visits to ensure secure assistance. They are also working to connect with seniors and caregivers by phone and video to reduce isolation. The Meals on Wheels program has switched from daily hot meals to a weekly drop-off of frozen meals by SCHC staff.

Throughout these efforts there have been illustrations of how we are stronger together.

Residents of the Scarborough Retirement Residence were concerned about the isolated seniors at 4175 and 4205 Lawrence Ave E. where SCHC has assisted living supports. So residents and support staff worked together to create Love-in-a-Box kits. The kits were complete with puzzles, games, food and personal products. The construction crew on-site completed the delivery.  

This story highlights that even in distance we are together. Cases like this are not alone; check out the SCHC blog for more at Every action has an impact,  from the volunteers writing notes of hope to go in the Meals on Wheels deliveries to the community members who have provided monetary donations to the food bank.  For those who are wondering what actions they can take, try following the SCHC on Facebook and Instagram. Checking into their website not only provides you with help but sharing content increases awareness to connect fellow community members. Accessing mental health and wellness sessions or content on care with engaging meaningful activities can be a game-changer for those in need. The second takeaway is that sharing a smile can be the bright point in one’s day. We are all in different boats but sailing through the same storm. If you can provide calm waters even for a moment