By ALANA RAYMAN
WoodGreen Community Services in East Toronto in one of a number of organizations helping those in need deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
WoodGreen, which serves about 37,000 of the city’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents, and organizations like it are facing a number of challenges during this present crisis.
Teresa Vasilopoulos, Executive Director at WoodGreen, said the support from government and the work of dedicated staff and volunteers are helping her organization to continue to deliver the much need care and programs that so many in the community are depending on.
WoodGreen’s programs include childcare, helping newcomers, offering employment and skills development services. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some of WoodGreen’s offices have been closed but services are being provided in alternate ways.
Community support groups such as WoodGreen are considered essential services and were not among those ordered shut down by the Province of Ontario last week.
“We also help isolated seniors by providing Meals on Wheels, making sure they are getting their medication with volunteers and PSW’s (Personal Support Workers),” said Vasilopoulos.
Also, WoodGreen provides help to women who are fleeing abusive relationships with a housing and education program.
“We also help homeless people to try to get permanent or transitory housing”, explained Vasilopoulos.
To cope with COVID-19, WoodGreen representatives are supporting area seniors by making sure they are staying safe and healthy. This helps ease the burden on the city’s already strained healthcare system, said Vasilopoulos.
The Meals on Wheels program is also critically important at this time, she said.
“A lot depends on Meals on Wheels and other food programs,” said Vasilopoulos.
“The food supplies are becoming scarce, so feeding the population becomes a lot harder, especially as there are a lot more health restrictions,” she said.
WoodGreen has been fortunate because the board and the organization’s supporters have donated money and they’ve been able to purchase more groceries for the food programs.
WoodGreen has also purchased hand sanitizer which has been donated to Michael Garron Hospital.
Vasilopolous said that the support of residents and local businesses (moral and financial) is now more important than ever as WoodGreen continues to serve those in need.
“People have been sending nice messages and cards to the frontline staff which has been really inspiring,” she said. “Some businesses and organizations help with pickups with groceries, but it can be tricky because we rely on volunteers and right now we have to limit them or try to find other solutions.”
Vasiloupoulos praised the tremendous help from all levels of government as they work to get supplies and support as quickly as possible to organizations such as WoodGreen.
“There was already a big population that was close to the poverty line, and with something like this, more people will be in need, so it’s important that we all support each other,” she said.
Those wishing more information about WoodGreen Community Services or who want to help or make a donation, are asked to please visit https://www.woodgreen.org/