Kamloops Caremongerers continue to expand services, meet community needs - InfoNews

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Kamloops Caremongerers continue to expand services, meet community needs

Kamloops residents are connecting online and over the phone to offer volunteer services during the pandemic.
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April 18, 2020 - 8:00 AM

From parking lot babysitting to online tutoring, Kamloops residents are coming together to meet each other's needs through an evolving volunteer database.

AnnMarie Aase started Caremongering-Kamloops when COVID-19 hit Canada in mid-March, and didn’t expect it to take off as fast as it did. Now, she says it is one of the largest "Caremongering" groups in the country, with groups in other cities showing a fraction of the membership.

“We have almost 4,00 members, Vancouver only has 1,000, Kelowna only has 1,700 thousand, so I think we’re the biggest Caremongering group in B.C. ... we’re one of the largest Caremongering groups in Canada, which is not surprising because Kamloops is known for being a really giving community.”

Some of the local “caremongerers” - a play on the term scaremongering - used their computer skills to create a webpage that would make for smoother connections between those needing help and volunteers. Now, nearly 300 people and 40 neighbourhood co-ordinators facilitate the connections.

Gisela Ruckert helped to create the webpage and says they continue to tweak it to be more user-friendly. She says the webpage has offered a place for the volunteers to create unique solutions to COVID-19 related challenges.

“People are offering help on things you might expect like tutoring or daily phone check-ins, but there have also been some really interesting ones,” Ruckert says.

“We’ve had offers from people who are willing to do parking lot babysitting. People don’t want to have their kids going over to other people's houses and we don’t want to have too many family groups going into stores, so we’ve had people offer to drive to the store in their own car, and then they’ll observe your kids and make sure they’re safe and alert you if there are any problems.”

Although the women agree the online platform is suitable for connecting volunteers with those in need, some people might not have access to the internet to get the help they need.

“I think it's the nature of the project that things are going to keep evolving as we go on,” Ruckert says.

Ruckert says that the program is now offering a call-in option for such folks. The team is working with social groups aimed at seniors and those who may be at risk and have no internet, and will also distribute flyers to let homebound people know about the service.

Starting next week, the volunteers will be working with Mount Paul Community Food Centre to deliver meals to people who may rely on the service but can’t leave home safely.

You can ask for or offer help by signing up on this website, and check out the Facebook group to offer help or share positive news.

If you know someone who could benefit from using the call-in service, they can do so by dialling 778-696-2039.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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