While some have been hit harder by the pandemic than others, The Community Company in Guelph is making sure low-income individuals and families are not forgotten.
The group partnered with Lakeside HOPE House to create Wellness Boxes that contain healthy fruits, mental wellness items and a handwritten note of positivity.
“The boxes are building community by letting people know that in a time of crisis, their community has their back,” said The Community Company founder Justin Chan.
Since the launch of the Wellness Boxes in late March, community members in Guelph came together and purchased 178 Wellness Boxes (each priced at $20) for HOPE House clients.
One anonymous healthcare worker even sponsored an entire day's worth of Wellness Box deliveries.
Chan said there’s a sense of enjoyment when one does something for the community and the idea for the Wellness Box had come as soon as the pandemic hit.
Two days after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Chan reached out to the executive director of HOPE House, Jaya James, to learn about the various issues those accessing HOPE House’s services will experience as a result of the pandemic.
He said James shared two concerns: one, some of her clients who are older and vulnerable may not be accessing the food market at the organization any more because they will put themselves in harm’s way when using public transportation to get their groceries; and two, healthy food is more important than ever when in isolation.
“More important I think than the items in the box is just the fact that people in our community know that they’re cared for and that they’re loved. The box is a reminder that people in the community do care for them and want them to do well,” said Chan.
Chan said his group is conducting surveys once they’re giving out the boxes in order to learn what has worked well and what has not.
“So were including stuff like paint kits and colouring books and things that people typically enjoy in terms of mental health activities but then we’re following up with phone calls so we can optimize what’s included in the wellness box,” said Chan.
HOPE House currently has a partnership with Linamar to deliver food market groceries to the homes of everyone who has access to their food market.
“What we’re doing is we’re adding Wellness Boxes to select grocery orders right now so we’re doing 20 wellness boxes a week,” said Chan.
“Our goal in May is to deliver a Wellness Box with every single one of their deliveries which would be 125 a week or 550 the entire month.”
The Wellness Boxes are available on the Community Group website where anyone interested in purchasing the boxes can buy either one box, sponsor a day’s worth of boxes or a week’s worth of boxes.
“It is at times like these that the community can make a real impact on one another’s lives. The Community Company creates products that start conversations. and collectively encourage each other,” said James in a press release.
Chan said the act of just helping others at a time of need brings so much joy to oneself.
“It’s such an unintended benefit of supporting your community. It feels almost selfish even though it's the most selfless thing you can do,” said Chan.