Social distancing in Ontario as a result of Covid-19 has given us a beautiful gift: the gift of innovation.
In all sectors of society, we have seen ingenuity at work: small businesses on social media platforms putting products in the public’s hands like never done before; the foodservice industry keeping tastebuds tantalized with food and beverage pairings to help inspire at-home date nights and family feasts; front-line workers showing us what they have always been: the everyday heroes all around us.
We salute those that keep us safe and well-served, from pharmacists, lab techs and PSWs to sanitation workers and grocery clerks. We salute thinkers, problem solvers and doers who make masks out of new materials, reconfigure production lines from producing alcohol to hand sanitizer, and the DIY queens and kings who make magic happen with homemade cleaning wipes and gadgets, making masks wearable for days.
But, have we clearly recognized our NGO friends? The paid and unpaid faces in organizations that serve our most vulnerable? Some of them have closed their doors because they could not conceive of a way to do their work safely. And some of them heeded the call: they mobilized, toiled, and even found ways to extend their arms to help even more of us.
One such case is the Elizabeth Fry Society in Sudbury and North Bay. In all of this chaos, they have ensured at-risk women and others in our area have what they need from housing to food, and the support to face challenges before them. And when Sudbury’s homeless need it, they help them, too. When young musicians lost their funding, E. Fry found a way to help them, as well.
And it hasn’t stopped there; staff are even working diligently to support larger societies in the province feeling the strain as Covid-19 sweeps prisons the way it is our nursing homes.
Oh, wait: you didn’t know that? Yes, our prisons and jails are dealing with outbreaks like our nursing homes. And because their populations are larger and in even closer quarters, the spread is even faster. But this is not front-page news. Why is that? Because, even in 2020, we don’t treat everyone equally. Especially not our most disadvantaged and disadvantaged women even less so.
But there is good news: you can help. You can support local and provincial organizations whose funding sources have dried up because of social distancing. Because the truth is, the same emergency actions that cancelled your favourite band’s upcoming tour also cancelled local fundraising events that sustain the vital work our non-profit organizations do.
Support your neighbours by buying local. Support our whole community by donating to a non-profit of your choice.
Member, board of directors, Elizabeth Fry Society of Northeastern Ontario