30 minutes | Jun 8, 2020
Coping with COVID in St. James Town part 5
In this episode, grassroots groups, community agencies, and volunteers in and near St. James Town respond to the needs of people facing challenges in shopping for groceries during the pandemic. Our guests are Jennifer, a 5-year resident of St. James Town, and Nayanthi Wijesuriya, who is the intake lead for Health Access St. James Town and also a member of the operations team at Community Corner. Community Corner (also known as The Corner) has a network of partnerships with grassroots groups in St. James Town as well as with other service provider agencies and faith-based organizations. Their ties with the grassroots groups has helped them to identify people in need, and to delivery grocery boxes to those people in the 19 high-rise buildings of St. James Town, as well as residents of nearby rooming houses, also called multi-tenant homes. Our guest Jennifer volunteers in her building with Community Resilience to Extreme Weather (CREW)), which plays a vital role in this initiative by helping residents to organize for emergency preparedness. CREW has been working in St. James Town for about two years and has remained active during the pandemic period, helping residents to support their neighbours in this grocery delivery initiative. In April, CREW volunteers in their building placed notices in all the residents’ mailboxes to let them know that grocery box donations were available. Forty boxes of groceries were delivered next day. Here we see the volunteers at work in the building where Jennifer lives. Our guests talk about the organizations that have supported this initiative by supplying the donated groceries. One of those is Operation Ramzieh .Based in Ottawa, it has delivered thousands of boxes of food groceries to people in both Ottawa and Toronto during the pandemic, who face health or financial challenges in obtaining healthy food during this time. Operation Ramzieh was started by the DreamMind Group, a corporate conglamterate based in the hospitality industry. From the start, the grocery donation and delivery initiative has also received support from The Neighbourhood Organization (TNO). Listeners and viewers who wish to donate to the initiative can do so through TNO, making sure to earmark it for St. James Town Community Corner. Community Corner also partners in this initiative with Our Lady of Lourdes Church and The New Common, of Trinity Life Church, which collaborate to provide food bank services now operating at The New Common, at 225 Wellesley. Since the food bank re-opened at that location, after being temporarily closed at its Bleecker street location due to inability to maintain distancing there, the grocery box delivery focuses on seniors, people with disabilities and people with other health-issues which make it difficult to leave their homes. Our podcast website: https://stjamestownstoreys.com Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
36 minutes | Jun 1, 2020
Coping with COVID in St. James Town part 4
Three guests from St. James Town and the broader community talk about how they are collaborating to get delicious and nutritious meals to St. James Town seniors and others in need of this support. Seniors who normally meet up regularly are also keeping connected through a weekly group online and video and telephone chat. We speak with Dr. Nalini Pandalangat, Program and Services Director for Immigrant, Refugee, and Newcomer Communities at Sherbourne Health; Dr. Priyal Goenke, a dentist who practices in India, and now a St. James Town resident and highly active volunteer; and Norma Khandaker, mental health worker at Progress Place, who is also Coordinator of the St. James Town Senior Mental Health Day Program and member of the operations team of Community Corner. They are part of an initiative to provide highly nutritious and appealing meals during the COVID-19 lockdown to seniors in St. James Town and to others for whom the pandemic has made it much more difficult to obtain and prepare meals. They share their perspectives on how it developed and the benefits it brings both to recipients and to volunteers. Dr. Goenke’s story about what brought her to St. James Town, and to the women’s catering collective Flavours from our Neighbours, is told here. Two of the main agencies that brought this initiative into being are Sherbourne Health and Progress Place. Progress Place is an organization that offers an innovative approach to recovery from mental illness, one in which the members create and feel part of community. Another of the other organizations that makes this initiative possible is The Neighbourhood Organization (TNO). Listeners of our podcast, and viewers of this website, who would like to support the meals part of the Meals and Wellness Check Program can donate through TNO, making sure to earmark the donation to St. James Town Community Corner. Two additional organizations that collaborate in this program by channelling volunteers to deliver meals are Volunteer Toronto. and Trinity Life Church [hyperlink: https://trinitylife.ca ] is also involved. Through Trinity Life Church’s ministry called The New Common, volunteers help to deliver the meals to the recipients. One of those volunteers explains what motivates her. And of course, a vital role is played by the members of the women’s catering collective Flavours from our Neighbours who volunteer to prepare meals for the members. We see them at work in these photos, courtesy of Aravind Joseph, of Community Corner. An episode about delicious and gorgeous meals would clearly be incomplete without visuals. Here are some photos shared by one of this week’s guests, Priyal Goenke. We also want to mention that Progress Place maintains a “warm line” during the pandemic, and has extended the hours from noon to midnight - 7 days a week. This is for anyone, not just seniors, who feels isolated, sad, distressed, or simply had a bad day and needs to talk with an understanding person. If you are calling from 12PM to 8PM, call 416 323 3721 If you are calling from 8PM to to midnight, call 416 960 9276. You can also access the warm line via the internet. Lastly, check out the podcast produced by Progress Place members called Radio Totally Normal Toronto (RTNT) Find us at https://stjamestownstoreys.com And contact us on that site, or at email@example.com.
29 minutes | May 25, 2020
Coping with COVID in St. James Town part 3:
In this week’s episode, we speak with Amal Kanafani, who settled in St. James Town as a Syrian refugee in 2013. In 2015, she created this non-profit organization called the Auntie Amal Community Centre, which works to better the lives of community members. It has been recognized by both federal and city government for its work. This Toronto Star article describes the powerful impact that Amal’s non-profit organization has in the life of one St. James Town resident, just in time for Christmas. In this lovely video made in August 2019, a young woman talks about how she benefitted from the Auntie Amal Community Centre, and about how she volunteers with the Centre. In our introduction to this week’s episode, we mention that the Auntie Amal Community Centre supplies furniture to newcomers, but it serves and benefits others as well. In our chat, Amal talked about an initiative she is involved in to make non-medical masks that many people have begun to use during the pandemic to protect those around them. In this video Amal describes the initiative and invites viewers to support by donating any amount of money they feel that they can. The Auntie Amal Community Centre welcomes donations. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-853-8833 Food insecurity and food banks are a topic in this Episode. Information about the food bank that we mentioned is available here, and it is made possible through a collaboration by The New Common, St. James Town Community Corner, and Our Lady of Lourdes Church. In the interview we asked Amal whether the neighbours she knows have been able to benefit from government programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Information about the CERB and other government programs of income support during the pandemic can be found here in the website of Councillor Kristen Wong-Tam. When we spoke to Amal in mid-April, she observed that not everyone was aware of such programs because some do not have internet at home. Lastly, Amal talked about the difficulties faced by recently arrived newcomers. She described the very difficult situation of a woman and her children who arrived in Toronto around the time that the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Challenges for newcomers to Canada during the pandemic are the focus of this CBC news article. Though it focuses on British Colombia, many of the same issues likely apply here in Ontario as well. CBC News. 2020. “’Everything is So Hard for Us: Newcomers Find Arrival in Canada Complicated by COVID-19”. CBC 15 April.https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-settlement-services-newcomers-covid19-1.5531283 Our podcast website: https://stjamestownstoreys.com Our email address: email@example.com
32 minutes | May 18, 2020
Coping with COVID in St. James Town Part 2
St. James Town Community Corner, popularly known as The Corner, has devised innovative ways to continue providing crucial services to the community during the pandemic. These include direct repair of appliances, laptops and related items, etc., as well as trouble-shooting of these items by phone and video calls. They also provide interactive video workshops in gardening. These services, which draw upon the skills and time of resident volunteers, as well as Community Corner staff, address practical needs of residents while maintaining a caring connection between them.
32 minutes | May 11, 2020
Coping with COVID in St. James Town part 1
In this first episode of our podcast, we look at the challenges of physical distancing in a high-rise apartment building in St. James Town, Toronto, as well as residents’ experience with food shopping, employment, and income loss. We also look at early stages of residents’ collaboration to deal with the pandemic. Our guest talks about the shortages of open public space for people to get fresh air and healthy exercise as a dilemma for people in this neighbourhood. This is the focus of these two news commentaries. CBC Radio. 2020. “The Idiocy of Our Current Urban Systems: Inequality, not High Density Cities, to Blame for COVID-19’s spread”. Bozikovic, Alex. 2020. “In the pandemic, Toronto’s St. James Town Needs Room to Breathe.” Globe and Mail 22 April. The interview also touched on difficulties that people are experiencing in applying for Employment Insurance during the pandemic. Roman, Katrina. 2020. “EI Claimants are Going Weeks Without Income as Federal System Slows to a Crawl.” CBC News 1 May. Ward 13 where St. James Town is located has a very energetic Ward Councillor who advocates tirelessly for her constituents including by issuing these nearly daily updates. Kristyn Wong-Tam, Councillor for Ward 13 And Councillor Wong-Tam also provides a link to a variety of special supports and programs to support people during the pandemic.Kristyn Wong-Tam’s updates on COVID-19 Our website is: stjamestownstoreys.com And we can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org