Kelly Dumas and her team at Rural Ottawa South Support Services (ROSSS) have a mission to make sure rural seniors don’t feel forgotten as a result of COVID-19 and its effects on our communities.
Even before the context of a global pandemic, many seniors living in rural areas were facing social challenges that put their health and well-being at risk. Food insecurity, social isolation, lack of transportation, and inconsistent connection to others are all issues that have been amplified and worsened by the COVID-19 crisis.
In normal times, ROSSS serves seniors and adults with disabilities to support them in living healthy, happy lives in their rural homes. This involves transportation to medical appointments, Meals on Wheels, social programs in the community, and providing assistance in their homes if it’s needed.
Soon after physical distancing guidelines were put in place by public health authorities, ROSSS started calling clients to check in and see how they could help, knowing many of their vital, in-person services were no longer possible.
Following these calls, ROSSS reached out to their long-time partner, United Way East Ontario (UWEO) to see if they could help them support the residents they knew were in crisis. No stranger to reacting quickly in times of community crisis, United Way worked with ROSSS through the Local Love in a Global Crisis program to address the issue and find a way to reach seniors who were most in need.
“With the support of United Way, we’re able to provide three nutritious meals a week for 25 people. We’re able to address the fact that they aren’t able to go to the grocery store with free hampers with some of the basic necessities like bread, and eggs, and milk.”
– Kelly Dumas, Executive Director of Rural Ottawa South Support Services
“We think of the United Way as being the leader that brings us all together around societal issues,” Kelly says. “We’ve been able to do amazing work thanks to United Way, by advancing ways of supporting seniors and adults with disabilities through the challenges they face.”
Since Kelly and her team started delivering meals and grocery hampers, they’ve been showered with an outpouring of appreciation from their clients. Voicemail messages, notes and calls have been steadily flowing in to thank the people who are helping them survive this pandemic.
*The voicemails have been shared with the permission of *Linda and *John. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.