Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Local non-profits make changes

DARIUS SHAHHEYDARI
CAMPBELL’S BAY April 29, 2020
Although “We are all in this together” is the message associated with the current directives for self-isolation, the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown are rattling some social groups more than others, causing a couple of organizations in Campbell’s Bay to adapt and continue to provide services to those in need.
AutonHomme is a distress centre for men, helping with matters such as divorce or being the bridge between detoxification and a rehabilitated lifestyle. The centre helps these men attain their health cards, find housing, work on resumes and or other similar tasks. Clients are assisted on an individual basis, with a plan of action designed based on each person’s needs.
“Our goal is to help people to be able to stand by themselves,” said AutonHomme employee Mike Lacaffe.
He predicted that because of the increase in domestic violence due to COVID-19 and the effect that self isolation has on mental health, the centre will be receiving more over-the-phone clients in the coming weeks.
“We have weeks where nothing happens, and all of the season we get a bunch of people contacting us,” said Lacaffe.
Following the COVID-19 restrictions, AutonHomme has stopped meeting with clients, turning to phone calls to continue to check up on them and work on their situations.
Twice a shift, all surfaces that can be touched by the staff or the clients are disinfected and employees are putting medication out on a table and watching their clients take it from a distance.
“It’s a little tough in this kind of field to work with the clients in the same space, maintaining that six foot distance, but we’re managing,” said Lacaffe.
The centre’s residence, which is currently housing two, is not taking in any more residents for the time being.
“With our two clients here, we still help them with their needs but it’s a process because we’re trying to respect social distancing and they have been on a sort of lockdown themselves,” said Lacaffe.
The location has also set up a separate room for a resident who may show symptoms of the virus to stay in before they undergo their test, as a precautionary measure.
Despite the social restrictions, the centre continues to stay in touch with their former residents to make sure they continue on the path they set out for before leaving.
“Truthfully, with the decrease in hours and people working less days, it’s a challenge to make sure we keep in contact with everybody and nobody is getting lost between the cracks,” said Lacaffe.
In addition to the psychological component, there is also an economic effect caused by the measures taken against the new virus.
Bouffe Pontiac is a food bank which normally operates like a grocery store, where beneficiaries would come in and pick out their products from a variety of brands, with certain amounts of food allowed in different categories.
The organization is now run by volunteers and three paid staff members, one of which is Kim Laroche, who said that Bouffe Pontiac is now feeding 28 more families. Numbering approximately 100 more people, the visits are mainly from individuals who used to have sustainable incomes that are now seeking food because they have lost their jobs.
Workers now prepare boxes of produce for the beneficiaries, who come up to a door at the location and give their names to the volunteers prior to receiving their package, through a separate door.
“The client - they cannot pick what responds better to their needs, they get whatever we pick for them,” said Laroche.
For clients over 60 years of age, the volunteers deliver their food to their homes, but for anybody under this threshold, they are required to come to the food bank. Requests for the boxes, whether they are picked up at the location or delivered, must be made by a phone call prior to showing up for pick-up.
Beneficiaries are served up to twice a month and deliveries are made once a month.
Prior to the pandemic, those requesting Bouffe’s service needed to qualify for it, bringing proof declaring their address and that they were earning less than a certain amount in income. Now, they only ask the beneficiaries why they need the food.
“We don’t want to be in contact [with anyone] or manipulate money, so we have [changed] our standards,” said Laroche.
For further safety precautions, the volunteers that go out for deliveries do not avoid making contact with the workers preparing the boxes and the clients as much as possible.
“We have a table set out outside and we put the box on the table,” said Laroche “Volunteers or clients then come and pick it up. They are not allowed to go into the people’s house, they just drop [the box] at the door.”
Workers then call the clients letting them know when the box will arrive at their door.
The team now arrives half an hour earlier than usual to prepare the boxes for the morning, and they take another half-hour out of their lunchtime to prepare the ones for the afternoon.
The quality of the food in the boxes is not compromised in the packaging, since Canada’s Food Guide is used as a reference point for the contents of the boxes, which cover products ranging from all of the guide’s categories, as well as some products labeled “extra”, such as popsicles.

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