With a little ingenuity and in the spirit of supporting our Veterans and communities, amazing work is happening in many parts of the country – members have continued to find ways to help while respecting advice from medical officials.
Virtual meetings One example is the recently launched Buddy Check Coffee program. The program gives Veterans a chance to meet for coffee in a supportive setting. With the new restrictions in place across the country, some locations have moved their meetings online. “Given social distancing and isolation, we knew that connecting would be more important than ever and started work on finding a solution, thus Virtual Buddy Check Coffee was born,” explained Chris Richardson, co-founder of Buddy Check Coffee. “So far, it’s been fantastic, we get to talk about what’s happening, how we are doing [and] stories from [the] service. Some folks drop by for a few minutes and others hang out for an entire hour. We have been able to connect, share concerns and also lighten the day.” Richardson said the sessions have also given participants an opportunity to share ideas about how best to help their local communities during the COVID-19 situation.
Providing food and supplies Whether delivering groceries or preparing meals, Legion volunteers have stepped up with the same sort of generosity they display all year. Providing a helping hand, both large and small. “People need groceries and medication in a lockdown and we’re getting it to them,” said Owen Parkhouse, a Legion Dominion Command Vice President and member of a local Branch in the small community of Morell in Prince Edward Island. His Branch recently shared a social media post to let people know how to arrange assistance. The Branch in Brandon, Manitoba is doing something similar, reaching out to members and offering help with groceries and deliveries. “You go to do deliveries and people are crying because they’re so scared and worried,” shared Branch President Toni McKelvie who is spending a lot of time in the kitchen and enjoying every minute of it. She hadn’t realized how scared some seniors are. She said they often attend the Legion’s Friday night dinners, but those have been temporarily cancelled. Five volunteers are making it all happen – one doing the deliveries, by leaving the packages on doorsteps, and the others cooking. “Some people have left thank you cards and money, but there is no charge,” says McKelvie. “One way or the other we were going to do this,” she stated emphatically.
Supporting service needs Veterans, who might normally have walked into a Branch for help, can still get it, but online instead. The closure of a majority of Branches and of our National Headquarters does not affect the Legion’s ability to help anyone who needs timely assistance. Our Veterans Services Department stands ready. McInnis says those who have a claim in the Veterans Affairs Canada queue, can still check on status through their My VAC Account. Legion service officer contact information is listed at Legion.ca. Any Branches that have remained open are operating with restricted access, based on local medical advice, so residents should check in advance before visiting. More information related to the pandemic situation and the Legion’s response can be found on their COVID-19 page. The Legion thanks Canadians for their support of our Veterans and their families, and our communities during this challenging time! Those who might wish to join our nation-wide group of generous volunteers can become a member of the Legion and help support our efforts. Even if you cannot volunteer, your membership helps us help those in need. Join online at Legion.ca/join-us. We look forward to welcoming you!