Pelham Cares Coordinator Lori Grande (now retired) ensures that all the Chefs Boyardee are properly stacked, November 2019, at the charity's office in Fonthill. VOICE PHOTO

The COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting self-isolation and social distancing has brought many changes to how Niagara businesses and organizations operate. Pelham Cares, a non-profit charity, is one such organization.

Tracy Holmwood, who has been the president of Pelham Cares for five years, believes that one of the best ways to cope with the pandemic is to have the least amount of physical contact possible.

“If everyone follows the social distancing protocols, then we should see a decline in the numbers of infections,” says Holmwood.

Pelham Cares has implemented its own social distancing measures while still serving the community.

“Safety measures have been put in place for staff and volunteers,” says Holmwood, which include disinfecting all surfaces and donated items, closing the doors, encouraging communication by phone rather than in person, cutting back on the number of volunteers (many current volunteers are elderly and especially vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19), and managing the working conditions of remaining volunteers to minimize exposure and promote contact-free pick-ups and drop-offs.

Donations and supplies are adequate for now, and there has not been an increase in need other than the normal spike in January. However, Holmwood expects that in a month there will be both an increase in need and a decrease in donations due to the effects of the pandemic: layoffs, unemployment, lack of child care, and stalled opportunities to find employment.

In terms of preferred donations, Holmwood says that any donation is welcome. For those who do need suggestions, she has these tips:

• If buying food and household items in bulk, then please consider donating one of these items.

• Recommended food donations include items that will last, such as pasta, dried food, and canned goods.

• Financial donations and gift card donations are welcome, to encourage social distancing and maintain the least amount of physical contact.

Pelham Cares has had to reduce their driving service, in which seniors are driven to their medical appointments. They have encouraged nursing homes to find alternate driving arrangements. Holmwood also suggests that because of self- isolation and social distancing, people should reach out to loved ones and friends and neighbours who may be struggling alone.

“If you know someone and they need help, please contact us on their behalf. People need to put the stigma of the food bank aside for now. It is completely confidential and we are respectful of people’s privacy. In normal circumstances, there may be a tendency to not reach out but these days it is more important to reach out if you need help, or if you know someone who may need help.”

In order to maintain social distancing, please call 905-892-5300 or email [email protected] for more information or to schedule a contact-free drop-off or pick-up.



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