City Councilor, Mary Deros was present at this drive, giving out food, masks and school bags to the community with volunteers and employees of both organizations on hand.
Two very prominent and non-profit organizations worked in unison last Wednesday, August 19th, bringing school supplies to the children of the community, as the return to school is certainly on the horizon. And with some pretty lax rules for mask-wearing while in the classroom, community parents certainly have enough to worry about. In the end it’s hard to place your children in the hands of an authoritative body, but in the end, we must trust our leaders if nothing else in times like these, as scary as that sounds.
But the PEYO and the Ressource Action Alimentation Parc Extension weren’t the only ones present handing out supplies and fresh food, as City Councilor Mary Deros was there as well, and on site since 9AM, sitting and waiting diligently to serve a community that she has been serving for years.
Ressource Action Alimentation Parc Extension
They are always on the lookout for books, clothes and of course household items … items that they can give back to those members of the community in desperate need. They have a massive amount of services offered, but due to the Corona Virus, perhaps the worst time being now, many had nowhere to turn. Their website claims: “We accompany people living through difficult situations related to poverty, immigration problems and other factors that might make them vulnerable. Our counselors offer active listening and create follow-up plans. Psychosocial services serve many purposes: support, information, orientation, reference and follow-ups … the social workers evaluate the needs of the person in its global situation and together, they establish an intervention plan that support and develop the acting capacity of the beneficiaries.”
Also, their goals are posted on their website. Here are just a few:
“Face the consequences of this present crisis not only in adapting and revising upwards our help framework, but also in seizing this opportunity to reinvent ourselves … Fight against the families’ hunger, food insecurity and poverty by offering essential and first line services … Favor the struggling families’ personal implication while being in a process of individual and collective participation.”
And these goals are only forever being perfected as they move along, fighting alongside the community and those in power choosing to help out.
The PEYO (Park Extension Youth Organization) has been working to serve the community since 1967, trying hard to improve the quality of life for many residents of Park Extension, specifically the young, organizing events and activities, i.e., sports, music, arts, food, service and so much more.
Working in tandem
The event took place in the parking lot in front of École Barthélemy-Vimont, where the Ressource Action Alimentation Parc Extension is also located. Next door is of course Centre William-Hingston.
The two organizations worked in tandem, with employees and volunteers showing up to lend a hand. When I arrived, I didn’t see all that many people waiting in line, but was later told that the event was organized a different way, with people making appointments to go and collect their goods and supplies.
“Park Ex received 1500 school bags, our citizens are getting both fresh produce and the school supplies for the children,” said Mary Deros. She also told us that the organizations had a list of registered names, and although people seemed to be slowly trickling in to collect their goods, Mary Deros told me that it had been going like that since 9AM and was sure it would go on like that until much later that afternoon, the people on the aforementioned list surely coming in to collect on this great gift offered by these organizations.
City Councilor Deros was also giving away free masks as she so often does at many events I’ve seen her at. She said of this: “You know it’s important, especially for the children … and some of these masks were donated by volunteers from the Hellenic Ladies Benevolent Society. The masks are made a little bit smaller … so I’m giving them out for the children.”
They also sent out meals earlier in the day. Before Covid-19 they were 15 and now that the pandemic is upon us, the meals are up to 70. “Two cars are going every day,” said Juliette Prie, an employee of PEYO. They themselves had to change a lot of their habits. They’ve always been giving to the community, hence the aim of the organization, but the demand obviously went up during Covid-19. Everything had to be sanitized, their procedures had to change, especially for meal prep and of course the wearing of masks, which is something we all have to deal with on a daily basis as this pandemic hopefully winds down, but of course many are awaiting a second wave and with the news as it is so far, many are expecting the worst.
Dashmeet Kaur of Ressource Action Alimentation Parc Extension was there as well. She started with the organization in 2018 and started as an animator, organizing workshops, French language courses and a plethora of other activities. But then Covid-19 hit and all that changed, her responsibilities shifting towards phone calls to members of the community, checking up on them to see how they are feeling in such tumultuous and stressful times. “If they have anything to discuss … feelings, anxiety, stress. They can call us and we are available from 9-5 from Monday to Friday.” And people have been calling she says, many calling to know what to do to be safe during the pandemic, many members of the community not able to speak English of French, so they call her, as she speaks many languages and is able to help them in their time of need.
Also added to her responsibilities are events like this and she goes to it with a smile and sense of determination, as all present did.
In the end, two organizations that already had their plates full of responsibility before Covid-19 came together to unite for this good cause as the stranglehold that is the pandemic washed over us, with leaders like Mary Deros there as well, they are managing to help a lot of people and in the end, that’s a great thing to see.