If the number of volunteers to help pack emergency food hampers for over 1,500 households this week at the Cornwall Civic Centre arena is anything to go by, the community spirit in the region is stronger than ever.
This was definitely the impression of my wife Jane and I as we joined over 150 volunteers from local organizations including schools and faith communities turned up to work in meticulously organized shifts to pack foodstuffs in cardboard boxes and load them on to a steady stream of vehicles that then delivered them to the households that had applied.
In fact, according to Sasha Spinner, a child protection worker with the Children’s Aid Society of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (CAS), some of her clients wept with joy and gratitude when they saw what was in the boxes – turkey, ham, milk, eggs, apples, bread, cooking oil – and even a pack of interesting and useful activity materials for children.
This effort was organized under the auspices of the Regional Emergency Response Council of Cornwall, the SDG Counties and the Mohawk Reserve of Akwesasne (RERC), an ad hoc consortium of 30 local agencies that was set up in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic..
Coordinating everything with exemplary planning and almost unflagging energy was Social Development Council Executive Director Carilyne Hébert, ably supported by Kimberly Gill, a CAS Service Manager.
These two stalwarts put in 14-hour days to “keep the show on the road” and make sure that everything and everyone were accounted for.
This kind of leading by example very much impressed volunteers, one of whom, Dawn Ostler of Knox – St. Paul’s United Church in Cornwall, said that “the organization was admirable.”
Carilyne, who is also a Cornwall City Councillor, explained that the project was a joint venture of the RERC, which is chaired by United Way Centraide SDG and her organization, the Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area (SDC). United Way and the RERC have received approximately $790,000 in federal, provincial and local funding plus corporate sponsorships since March 2020. The funds have been used by a number of covid relief programs organized by RERC members and have been distributed by local agencies to help them adapt to a new way of delivering services.
Carilyne said that she was very impressed by how well the different local agencies have worked together, citing the example of the Glengarry Inter-Agency Group (GIAG) who helped deliver hampers to the clients of the Anglican Church’s Centre 105.
All in all, a Thanksgiving effort to be thankful for!
Article by Neil Macmillan with photos by Jane Macmillan