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Delivering basic needs and compassion

This story has been updated since its original publish date of February 9, 2021, to feature an updated conversation with Marie.  

“I was always [going to]one appointment here, one appointment there, and then COVID started and everything stopped.”

Marie, a self-described “young sixty-nine year old,” chuckled at memories of the bustling errand trips she used to frequently take with her daughter.

Prior to the pandemic, her ability to take public transit played a vital part in ensuring her family had access to necessities like groceries, health care, social connections, and more. But because both she and her daughter have disabilities and underlying medical conditions, they are at a higher-risk of contracting COVID-19. 

As public health restrictions tightened, Marie and her daughter soon became isolated in their home. Their health concerns and low-income meant they were cut off from many essential services they depended on. 

Fortunately, a partnership between United Way East Ontario and the Good Companions Seniors’ Centre means Marie and her daughter now receive bi-weekly food hampers containing groceries and the supplies they need to stay safe at home.

Since we first spoke to her in the fall of 2020, Marie has experienced a few health challenges, including a brief hospital stay for an emergency hand surgery.

When we caught up with her over the phone in the spring, she wanted to share how vital community supports have been to her recovery.  

“The driver who drive me to the hospital called me the next day to make sure I had gotten home safely,” said Marie. “There’s a follow up, it’s not just a job. With the Good Companions, it makes you feel like an extended family.”  

“I hope that people who can afford it will give from the heart, because it does help organizations who are there to help seniors like myself,” she added. 

As she recovers from her hand surgery, Marie also has to cope with the effects of two strokes she experienced in 2020, which left her unable to cook like she once used to. 

Marie says the prepared meals she received thanks to United Way and the Good Companions have been essential to her recovery, especially since her surgery affected her dominant hand.

I can’t always tell when meat is ready, so my Down syndrome daughter actually does cooking. And the prepared meals are a godsend … Its been extremely helpful,” she added. 

“If it wouldn't have been for the Good Companions, and Wabano, I would not have been able to make it through this pandemic the way I have.”

Keeping connections strong, even when we’re apart

When COVID-19 first entered our communities, the team at United Way knew vulnerable and isolated seniors would be some of the hardest hit by the pandemic: many live alone and require in-home services and transportation to their appointments, and many others rely on in-person day programs for social interactions with others. 

So, United Way quickly reached out to the Good Companions and other seniors-serving organizations to ensure seniors wouldn’t fall through the cracks. 

The food hamper deliveries have a dual purpose: they keep seniors fed and healthy in their homes, and they also allow the Good Companions to conduct in-person wellness checks. The delivery drivers make sure seniors are receiving the services they need, and can connect them to further help if necessary.

“It’s delivered by a lovely man named George. He is always in such a good mood, always with a smile on his face. It’s nice to get that little visit, even if it lasts a minute.” – Marie

Monique Doolittle-Romas, Executive Director, The Good Companions

“At the beginning of the pandemic we were providing an incredible amount of food hampers. For some, it was the only person they saw. So the drivers have become their best friends throughout the pandemic.”

Peace of mind

Bi-weekly check-ins have become a staple in Marie’s pandemic routine—a beacon of positivity that she and many other seniors look forward to. 

Having stable access to support means Marie can focus on her family’s wellbeing, instead of worrying about the risks of going out for necessities. 

“The fact that we don’t need to go out grocery shopping means a lot. Because we live with a small amount of money, it helps greatly—I cannot under define the word ‘greatly’ enough.” – Marie

Support seniors in your community. 




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