By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on April 24, 2020.
Friends, we’re all going through a lot right now. My office has been fielding calls from constituents who have lost incomes, parents unsure of how to best educate their kids – especially those with disabilities – and many, many people struggling with anxiety around COVID-19 and all of its impacts on our community. This is truly a challenging time for our city, our region and, perhaps greatest of all, our province.
Given the challenging times we’re in, I first want to take a moment to thank you all for what you’ve already been doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and for the sacrifices we’ve all been making toward that goal. These days spent without going out to our favourite restaurants or taking our kids to the pool have no doubt been tough, but they are having an impact, and they are giving our health-care workers vital time and space to deal with this pandemic. The more that we can practise physical distancing, wash our hands frequently and limit our interactions to only the most absolutely essential, the fewer infections will occur, and the more lives we will save. So, thank you to everyone in our city who has done such a remarkable job keeping each other safe!
Still, this has been a remarkably tough time for so many in our community. However, I know we’ll get through this. I know that because of how I’ve seen southern Albertans pulling together throughout this crisis. Even though we remain physically distant from one another, I’ve never felt the embrace of our community in quite the same way as I’ve felt over the last month since this crisis began in earnest. While there are too many organizations and individuals to name in one column, I wanted to single out a couple of groups that have done absolutely amazing work to help our neighbours out through this crisis.
The Lethbridge COVID-19 Community Support Circle, a group that began on Facebook just a few weeks ago and now has almost 5,000 members, has done amazing work facilitating connections between neighbours. Led by a few amazing women in our community, this group has helped residents of our city to connect to resources that they need, whether that’s something as important as groceries or school supplies for homebound kids, or just something to brighten their day. Not only has the generosity of our community inspired me, with so many offering help and resources to fellow residents, but the moderators have done an excellent job making sure that community members are informed of resources available from the City and that information shared is from reputable, verified sources. Great job to everyone involved!
I also wanted to give a quick shout out to all the city services that have been adapting their programming for our new distanced reality. Beside our wonderful teachers who are making sure our kids are not just learning, but feeling cared for by their networks outside the home, the Lethbridge Public Library, Helen Schuler Nature Centre and Boys and Girls Clubs have all been providing programming to make sure that our kids are feeling connected, and maybe just a little less bored. These folks, in addition to all of the food banks, mental health services and faith-based initiatives have made a challenging time in our city much more bearable.
Our office has been doing our best to offer services to our constituents, even in the absence of an open constituency office. Through my Facebook page, we have posted a number of helpful resources, including a Benefit Navigator for the programs being delivered by the federal government to supplement lost income.
We have also tried to include resources for those who might need help accessing food, legal guidance or mental health supports. We’ll be making more videos and resources available over the course of the pandemic as well.
As always, it’s vital that we only trust official sources, take advice from our medical officials, and share only verified information on our social networks. If you need anything from our office, my staff and I continue to work from home, and will do our best to help you. You can contact us at Lethbridge.firstname.lastname@example.org , or leave a message at 403-329-4644. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Until we can meet in person again, please stay safe, and keep doing what you’re doing to help stop the spread and keep our community safe!
Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.