Okanaganites put being a good neighbour into practice during the pandemic - InfoNews

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Okanaganites put being a good neighbour into practice during the pandemic

FILE- In this March 13, 2019, file photo Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are are displayed on an iPhone in New York.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File
March 17, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Regardless of where they are in the world, people are organizing in different ways to help their neighbours who may be having a hard time coping with the change in daily life, due to COVID-19.

Lisa Fraser, a Kelowna business owner, is one of them. She saw a need to create a space where uplifting ideas could be shared as fear of the pandemic spread.

“I was speaking with a couple of friends about ‘how can we help people?’ and ‘how do we get in touch with people who need help?’ especially if we are housebound,” she said.

“So I decided to create a place where we can post if we need help and can offer help.”

It’s called Spreading Kindness Kelowna - COVID-19 Community Response and its aim to “help match up fellow Kelownians in need with someone who can help.”

Already there have been posts about where to get some online resources that could take the sting out of an otherwise dull day indoors. Others are offering their services to help those who may be feeling vulnerable ride out periods of stress or anxiety.

“I only started it this morning and the response has been amazing — there are already 601 members,” she said.

Fraser said while she and her husband have their own business in a relatively stable industry, she knows many are starting to feel concern about how they’ll make ends meet. Or, now that school’s out indefinitely, how they are going to make sure their children’s needs are met while still trying to earn an income.

“This is all a bit scary,” she said. “It’s emotionally draining, all day long.”

What’s come together in the group, however, has lightened an otherwise heavy load.

“There was someone offering counselling, and ways to entertain your kids,” she said.

“One person said she needed baby formula and another person said they’d go out and get it. Just anytime we can help each other right now, is awesome.”

Times like these, she pointed out, can make you feel helpless and this may help alleviate that.

“When something is like this, we will see the best of people and the worst,” she said.

Another group that started was CareMongering-OK: Kelowna & the Okanagan Community Response to COVID19.

“This is a group for sharing and organizing community resources in response to COVID-19,” reads the about page, which also notes it’s taken a page from a similarly named group out of Toronto.

The goal of this group is similar to Fraser’s but aims to see the redistribution of resources in the case that stockpiling prevents people from accessing basics.

“All kinds of mutual aid and support posts are welcome in addition to COVID-19 specific posts,” the about page reads.

Another group with a similar mandate is West Kelowna COVID-19 Volunteers.

David Prangnell started that group with the aim to help out his neighbours, also.

“COVID-19 is going to make life difficult for many people in our community,” he said.

“This group is designed to make it a little less harsh for the people who need help or for the people who can help to find a way to do something good. I’m not sure what this will entail. Could be anything from helping quarantined people with a grocery run, reminders to check in on our neighbours to whatever. … Let’s harness the power of social media for good. Clean hands, clear heads, open hearts.”

British Columbia declared a public health emergency Tuesday, March 17, as officials announced 83 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths. That amounts to a total of 186 cases and seven deaths.

Two of the new deaths are linked to the ongoing outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, while the third was a man in his 80s in the Fraser Health region.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the spike in new cases reflects a lag in test results as a number of new test sites came online, including in hospitals and urgent and primary care centres in the Lower Mainland.


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