The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how NeighbourLink Summerland is able to help its clients, but the faith-based charitable organization wants to reach out and keep in contact with people in the community.
Mirjana Komljenovic, community coordinator with NeighbourLink, said the organization has traditionally provided hands-on services to individuals. These included providing rides to and from medical appointments as well as other services where volunteers were in contact with clients.
However, as a result of the pandemic and in order to keep volunteers and service recipients safe, the organization has changed its approach.
In late March, when measures were first implemented to slow the spread of the pandemic, NeighbourLink suspended all in-person services.
“Even though these volunteers are compassionate and resourceful their demographics place them at great risk if infected,” a March statement from the organization read.
Komljenovic said the organization has been keeping up communication with its clients, calling each week to ensure the clients are okay.
She describes NeighbourLink’s role at present as “the switchboard of the community.”
While the weekly contacts have helped volunteers to stay connected with clients, Komljenovic would like to see the community connections extend further.
She is asking residents of Summerland to reach out to neighbours who are struggling or are shut in and to call these people, or put them in touch with NeighbourLink volunteers.
As the pandemic continues, Komljenovic said NeighbourLink is continuing to evolve.
The organization is not able to hold public fundraisers as in previous years. In addition, the monthly soup socials, which served as a gathering for some in the community, have also been cancelled.
The Christmas dinner matchup, connecting people who are alone during the festive season with those who want to host guests, has also been cancelled for this year.
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