United Way offering pandemic aid

by Keith Corcoran

A local VON meal program is getting a $6,513 lift from Lunenburg County's United Way from funding made available by the federal government and a special fund established by the nationally-recognized charity, all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding supports the Lunenburg County VON's Frozen Favourites meal program, designed to help address some of the nutritional needs of people who are housebound due to the coronavirus, the local United Way said. The delivery service provides the VON a chance to deliver both nutrition and a safety check at the seniors' doorsteps.

The local United Way recently announced more than a dozen programs received portions of nearly $40,000 earmarked to help local vulnerable populations with access to food, housing, cleaning and hygiene products including delivery, mental health supports, along with other things that may be needed as a result of the pandemic.

"We want and try and work with the community partners," Lunenburg County United Way coordinator Michael Graves recently told LighthouseNOW. "We try to tap into their networks when we can, and we'll try and find a partner if we think can implement a program."

The local United Way announced nearly $40,000 is being divided up and allocated to the various organizations.

Freeman House in Bridgewater, for example, which provides supports and services focused on family violence and trauma prevention, receives $5,000.

"As the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, already vulnerable individuals and families will need support," the United Way said in the announcement. "This investment will help staff assist vulnerable individuals and families to meet some of their basic needs."

Nearly $4,000 goes to South Shore Public Libraries to meet some technology needs on the road to cutting down on social isolation. The money is used to provide five iPads and five Samsung tablets to seniors at local nursing homes. "Once the pandemic is over these same tablets will be used by library staff to engage the public," the United Way said.

The hot meal program at Souls Harbour, at the corner of Pleasant Street and Empire Street in Bridgewater, is getting a $3,500 boost to help offset "increased costs associated with the purchase of takeout containers, single serving packaged foods, as well as bottled beverages." Soul's Harbour also received $1,550 toward delivery of 20 "brown bag" twice a week to seniors living in Bridgewater.

Meanwhile, Lunenburg County's YMCA is joining forces with Sam's No Frills supermarket in Bridgewater to offer grocery delivery within the county. The United Way is contributing $3,000 to this program.

"It's harder for some people to get into the grocery stores, and then there are people who are afraid to get into the grocery stores," Graves told LighthouseNOW.

The focus of the service is on seniors 55-and-over but is readily available. For more information about this program, contact Kim Roy of the YMCA at 902-298-1900 or email: kim.roy@ns.ymca.ca.

The YMCA also received another $1,100 to allow youth to connect via video conferencing "to communicate, check in, calm their fears, get the facts, reach out and continue to gain valuable leadership skill training at the same time."

Graves is encouraged with what he's seeing in the community.

"These are unique and challenging and times for all of us," he said. We're "heartened by the support that neighbours are giving neighbours in communities throughout the South Shore."

To learn more about the local United Way, and its available programs, contact Michael Graves via email at office@lunenburgcounty.unitedway.ca, or by calling 902-521-4704. More details can be found online at www.lunenburgcounty.unitedway.ca on the internet.

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