We only have to skim the daily news to see that the COVID-19 outbreak is hitting our most vulnerable the hardest.
Grassroots community organizers are helping support many people who often aren’t on the radars of decision makers, and who may not qualify for assistance programs. Those closest to the ground know where the need is – and how to reach those families. On Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, communities are no strangers to the challenges of poverty, addiction and social isolation. And, Cape Bretoners are some of the greatest “caremongerers” around.
On a recent call organized by United Way Cape Breton to identify opportunities to collaborate to get food to children and youth in need, many new projects, funding opportunities and ideas were shared. As the discussion neared an end, a humble voice put one last offer on the table. Barry Waldman, founder and Executive Director of EPIC (Educational Program Innovations Charity), which focuses on educational opportunities for at-risk children and youth, spoke up. Before the pandemic set in, Barry had decided to purchase a new car. Just that week, his new car was delivered, which meant that he had no more need for his older vehicle. He was inspired by the sense of community and need for food he was hearing about. Barry decided to make an offer: if anyone on the call knew of someone in the community in need of a car and would be able to make good things happen with it he would strike a deal. If that person would commit to using the car to deliver food (and whatever else was needed) for 2 hours/day for 60 days, he would sell them the car for $1.
It only took a couple of days to find the right person. Margaret, a Youth Worker at the Whitney Pier Boys and Girls Club of Cape Breton, was the ideal candidate. On Good Friday, Margaret started her first daily shift delivering lunchtime meals to school students in the community. She’s loving seeing their excited faces as they come to get their food, and parents are describing the work as a “lifeline” when they most needed it.
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