Caledon Community Services (CCS) has been a source of strength and support for Caledon residents for many years. CCS provides confidential support, programs, and resources to address the challenges faced by individuals and families with a goal of helping people meet those challenges through responses that “help people help themselves.” Like other charities and non-profits the Covid-19 pandemic has created a greater need for their services while simultaneously making fundraising more difficult. CCS is grateful to all of the residents and businesses that have, and continue to, step up in this time of increased need. Just Sayin’ Caledon (JSC) spoke with Donna Cragg, Director of Communications.
Q: How has COVID changed daily life at Caledon Community Services (CCS)?
DC: We transitioned to Work-From-Home wherever possible in mid March. Our 18 King Street location was always staffed but not open to the public. That affects our Jobs Resource Centre. With having to suspend group activities this affected many of the jobs, youth and newcomer services but we quickly and quite effectively transitioned to virtual to keep providing assistance to clients. Some clients tell us they prefer the new format. Staff has really been focused on keeping the personal connection with clients and providing meaningful services to them. A huge impact has been the absence of volunteers which we asked to stay home for their own safety – we did have some working virtually like our programs and we are including them in our work on safe return to the workplace.
Q: What protocols are in place to protect staff, clients, and visitors?
DC: Our stores Evolve Clothing and Evolve Lifestyle were the first area to reopen with carefully developed Back to Work plans that drew on all the health and government regulating bodies but also looked to Retail Council of Canada for best practices. Jacquie Parliament, our Specialist Clinic coordinator, has Doctors in once a week on Friday only and currently she is working on training all staff on return to work protocols, auditing the workplace for safety and setting up and managing our PPE program. Each site has its own plan in place that has been developed with respect to the recommended health guidelines and are adjusted to keep abreast of changes. We are adhering to the requirement for masks in all indoor locations to ensure safety of staff and visitors.
Q: Is there a government body whose regulations you must meet?
DC: We follow all of Peel Public Health, Town of Caledon By-laws, and have relied on their guidance throughout this pandemic. For our transportation we follow MTO regulations and are paying close attention to Transhelp guidelines. The Ministry of Health (MOH) also impacts our day to day work with our senior services including Assisted Living, Respite and Transitional Care Centre,
Q: In what ways has it impacted the functioning of the organization?
DC: Very dramatically, however, our emphasis has been, as always, on continuing to provide the services that residents absolutely need. And recognizing through COVID that the need is increasing. The move to virtual on programs that could be adapted, the contactless interactions such as food pick up, the changes in hours to allow sufficient time for cleaning and sanitizing are just a few examples.
Q: What events have had to be cancelled or postponed?
DC: This year’s AGM went virtual for the first time in our almost 50-year history.
Our Velocity Cycle Ride to support seniors had to be cancelled, it runs on Caledon Day each year and as you know all Cheers Caledon/Caledon Day festivities were suspended and we hope that it will return in 2021
This fall Campbell’s Cross Farms was holding a fundraising event to benefit CCS – a farm to table harvest dinner that cannot be held at this time. We look forward to working with this amazing community minded team to reschedule this event sometime in the future. We were thrilled to see them open for the ‘Sunflower’ season and the community support that is being afforded to local businesses. It’s the Caledon way!
Our major fundraising event of the year, the Home for the Holidays Gala, has gone LITERAL this year and Home for the Holidays will be an exciting virtual event in 2020 being held on December 5th. We hope to attract all past guests and new ones that gravitate toward online events. Any loss of funding on any events will hurt the people who need our help most throughout the year ahead.
The Santa Fund is equally vital and plans are underway to re-envision this campaign as the regular format will not be able to be managed safely this holiday.
Coldest Night of the Year – originally scheduled for Feb 2021 is uncertain at this time. Hopefully an outdoor event of this nature will be able to be held even if the pre and post walk events have to change to ensure safety.
Q: How can people help you meet gaps in fundraising?
DC: People have been fantastic stepping up for the Exchange offering food supports etc. We really need support of the Literal Home for the Holidays Gala and the upcoming Santa Fund. Next February’s Coldest Night of the Year Walk is also up in the air. The Campbell’s Cross Harvest Dinner that was planned for this fall will similarly have to be deferred. So wholesale community support of the events and campaigns that are being held in the various forms will go a long way into meeting any funding gaps experienced.
Q: How are people keeping their spirits up?
DC: We’ve got staff who have started meditation and there seems to be a wholesale effort to focus on the positives. However the stressors are significant and not everyone fairs so well in this environment. As a staff team we’ve been keeping connected on Zoom at various times and a few fun contests to engage and lift spirits have been held. All prize commitments have been fulfilled – but no sugar coating it, it has been tough. We are currently focused on a safe back to work plan, recognizing that the virtual service provision doesn’t work the best for everyone we serve so we are intent on providing options to clients.