This year has brought many changes to all of us, both professionally and personally.
This past spring the Parent Link program was cancelled and on April 1st KARA became part of the new Family Resource Network. At the same time Covid-19 started to spread and we were forced to find ways to stay connected with our KARA families virtually. I am very proud of the way our staff worked together to find creative ways to offer programs and support to families. Whether it was interactive early childhood programs, facilitating parent education sessions or working one on one with a parent over the phone, staff rose to the challenge. As we are now back to working from home we are continuing to meet this need.
I want to thank everyone of our staff and Board members for their continuing commitment to KARA as we navigate this ‘new normal. In September, I celebrated 16 years with KARA Family Resource Centre. I have always maintained that I had the best job in the world, and this was due to the people I worked with – staff, volunteers, parents and children, and Board members. It is with mixed feelings that I let you know I am retiring at the end of the year.
Change is inevitable, and I have decided that it is time for me to leave KARA and spend time with my family, do some traveling (soon, I hope), and explore other adventures life has in store for me. I am very pleased to let you know that Darby Wilkinson will be taking my place in January. Darby is very skilled, and I know she will be a great addition to our team. Please join me in welcoming Darby to KARA!
~ Pam Doubleday
In response to the unprecedented burden citizens are facing in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, the City of Edmonton has provided the public with a list of grocery and food resources for those in need of food and grocery assistance during this crisis. If you are in need of food donations or grocery shopping assistance, please consult the list below for information on the resources being made available.
For information on the financial support services available please visit here.
Food Donation/Assistance Resources
Edmonton Food Bank
IFSSA Halal Food Hamper
(IFSSA) is in partnership with Edmonton’s Food Bank. Call: (780) 900-2777
Fresh Routes delivers food baskets at no to low cost depending on eligibility. If you are in isolation and are unable to get fresh food, call Steve at 403-249-8350 for help.
Grocery Store Information
Costco (All locations)
Senior Hours: 8am – 9am Tue & Thu (over 60+ age or disability)
Regular Hours: 9am – 8:30pm Weekdays | Sat 9am – 6pm | Sun 9am – 5pm
IGA (9106 142 St NW)
Senior Hours: 8am – 9am Everyday
Regular Hours: 9am – 8pm Mon – Sat | Sun 9am – 7pm
Safeway (All locations)
Seniors Hours: 8am – 9am Weekdays
Regular Hours: 9am – 8pm Everyday
Save On Foods (All locations)
Seniors Hours: 7am – 8am Everyday
Regular Hours 8am – 8pm Everyday
Superstore (All locations)
Seniors Hours: 7am – 8am Tue & Fri
Regular Hours: 8am – 8pm Everyday
Grocery Delivery/Pickup Services
Good Food: Meal ingredients and recipes delivered weekly
Instacart: Grocery delivery service, their shoppers will buy food and deliver to your door.
Save on Foods Online: Pick up & Delivery options
Superstore PC Express: Order online, grab and go at store or pick up locations
The Organic Box: Order online, focus on local, organic, and health food, including local farm fresh and organic produce boxes. Delivery available.
In response to the unprecedented financial burden citizens are facing in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, the City of Edmonton has provided the public with a list of resources for those in need of financial assistance during this crisis. If you are in need of financial assistance, please consult the list below for information on the resources being made available.
For more information on available food donation and grocery shopping support services please visit here.
For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:
- Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.
- Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits
Alberta Government Emergency Isolation Support
Starting March 23rd, Albertans will be able to apply online for and receive $572 from the emergency isolation support package starting next week which is meant to act as a backstop until federal payments come in April. Eligibility will be based on the Government of Alberta’s criteria for self-isolation, and include those who are the sole caregiver of a dependent who is in self-isolation.
Government of Canada Emergency Care Benefit
Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
- Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:
- by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
- by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
- by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.
Utility payment holiday: Residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider.
This includes City of Edmonton Waste fees
Naturally, in the current medical climate, there is a lot of room for worry. Our families are at the front of our minds and we are finding ourselves in a different situation than we’ve been used to, and likely one we’ve never faced before.
The World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is a global outbreak, occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of people. The last pandemic to occur was the H1N1 Influenza outbreak, which was declared in 2009. I was in college practicing to be a nurse when it was declared, but even still, now that I have a family, I’m more engrossed with the COVID-19 situation and ever-watching as it unfolds. I’m sure many of the parents out there feel similarly, and are thinking of their loved ones as they make family decisions. Therefore, to help my family and yours, I’ve sourced and summarized some coping methods specific to pandemics in the hope that they help empower everyone and make family management easier.
The Psychologists’ Association of Alberta has developed a Psychological Coping During a Pandemic Fact Sheet to help everyone understand normal responses to abnormal events. Such normal responses include anxiety, unrealistic fears, and strong defensive actions. They’ve given recommendations to help improve psychological responses and advice on when to seek help. Let’s walk through the recommendations together.
Staying informed but not overloaded – This is easy to understand but hard to accomplish. With the pandemic currently affecting all of us around the globe, and Alberta just recently joining the fight, the news highlights little else. On top of that, we are living in a time sure to be known as the social media era. It’s hard not to get sucked into conversations regarding the current situation and the current political decisions regarding it. However, I’ve found a little path that I’ve managed to walk regarding social media distancing: I check government websites (Alberta Health Services, the World Health Organization, Public Health Agency of Canada, & the US Center for Disease Control are all reliable information sources) and join the conversation with a few select colleagues whom I find calming in nature. Government websites provides relevant, prompt facts that are not inundated with gossip, and naturally calming people provide social support, as well as points of view that are not anxiety producing. It’s been a few days since I’ve distanced myself from the exceptionally wide world of information and I do already feel less stressed and more able to make sound decisions regarding precautions.
Staying physically healthy – I truly believe the sudden stresses (as well as the time of year) associated with the pandemic declaration are causing some of those around me to come down with the common cold or other common illness. Stress reduces the body’s ability to ward off any illness; therefore, keeping a healthy lifestyle, even in the middle of winter with recreation facility closures, is important. How can we do this? My son and I have found a way. Youtube! Earlier this year, I had planned for us to take a yoga class together down the street at the local recreation centre. Unfortunately, we never got our chance. Therefore, I Amazon’d ourselves a couple of yoga mats and we’ve started working out to Youtube yoga videos every night before bed. It’s been such a hit that I know we will keep it up even after facilities open again. It’s easier on the pocket book and he loves the variety we can get!
Maintaining perspective – “Our government needs to prepare for possible worst-case scenarios in order to protect the public. The public, however, does not need to expect the worst.” Reading this really opened my eyes as to the direction local media was going – perhaps they were blowing things out of proportion a bit, emphasizing every story and repeating tragic news. Yes, our government is making changes that really impact us citizens, but that does not mean the worst case is going to transpire. All of the measures being taken are preventative and are made to prepare, not panic.
Build your and your family’s resilience – Resilience is a profound mental tool that can help in any situation. Building mental resilience takes effort and time, but it’s incredibly beneficial. How to do it? There are many ways, and here are some of the ways that have helped me: practicing thought awareness by preventing negative thoughts from derailing your mental track; practicing cognitive restructuring, such as building positive thoughts and changing the way you perceive new thoughts; choosing positive responses to mistakes, such as letting things go and learning from them; and building your social network to include people that make you a better person. For resilience building exercises, check this resource out.
Communicate with your family – Discuss the news honestly with your family, keeping topics age-appropriate. Many of them may be too young to understand the effects of the current situation, but topics such as hand-washing and covering your cough with your elbow, may help them understand certain aspects and preventative measures. With most children at home now, keeping up with routines is also very important in reducing anxiety in children. Try maintaining a schedule that does not conflict with social distancing policies, like arts and crafts time or outdoor walks. Remember that children will watch your behaviors and emotions for cues on how to manage their own feelings. You may want to limit your family’s media consumption to help reduce collective anxiety.
Making a plan – Developing a plan for a possible outcome, such as prolonged isolation, job loss, or diagnosis, could really help lessen anxiety. Know the correct way to monitor for illness, manage symptoms, and report a suspected case. These details can be found here. Keeping up-to-date on emergency financial assistance (to be available for applications next week at alberta.ca) can also help alleviate stress. Those with mortgages and who qualify can also request to defer mortgage payments for up to six months to help cope financially. Lastly, ensure your household, close friends, and neighbours are aware of plans so that everyone feels supported and strengthened together. You can make a buddy system for checking on each other or helping with errands in the event support is needed. Visit the Federal government’s website on emergency preparedness for more great info.
Seek additional help – Those that feel overwhelmed or have prolonged reactions that negatively affect their daily activities can seek professional help by calling Edmonton’s Mental Health Crisis Services Distress Line. It’s a confidential service provided seven days a week to those requiring additional mental help. Find more info here.
All of us at KARA do miss our KARA families and hope these tips on managing stress will empower all of our families during this time. We hope to see you all again when it’s safe to resume programs and look forward to working together again! Stay safe and take care!