Families Canada Members stepping up Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre meeting needs of Halifax community

The Nova Scotian part of our great Canadian family has been hit hard. First from COVID-19, of course, but more so through a loop of heart-breaking tragedies. But, through this, one of our Families Canada members has become a remarkable beacon of hope, kindness and love as their local and wider community struggles to recover. And it is community that Nova Scotians do exceptionally well.

Care packages or hampers are often our go-to place for celebration as well as sorrow. These hampers are one way to show that we are thinking of each other. Bayers Westwood understands this well so got busy and creative delivering hundreds of personalized care packages to doorsteps. Bayers Westwood normally hosts a drop-in spot for coffee and breakfast, but staff adopted the mantra, “call anytime because we’re here to support.” Executive Director Donna Sutton says she just wants to make people happy, “that’s what we’re here for.”  Of late, “it’s been a lot for these families.”

The Bayers Westwood folks began to customize their care packages, which have become a huge community hit. Starting with a co-worker making Iraqi comfort food for an afternoon hot meal service for seniors, it evolved into seniors’ activity bags filled with fun diversions. Deliveries allowed staff to do individual check-ins, assessing needs and offering support. COVID-19 has had a terrifying impact on seniors, especially for those in long term care: Halifax sadly being no exception. But, given the strong links that Bayers Westwood maintains with its seniors, staff knew what was needed.

As the care package diversity grew, local businesses were invited to donate non-perishable and fresh foods. And businesses responded, including Feed Nova Scotia, Tomavo’s produce store, Square Roots farm group and Cobs Bakery. Local churches, among others, got involved; some donating much appreciated personal items including baby supplies for new moms. Especially popular have been bags for kids filled with age-appropriate activities: Wonder’neath Art Society stepped up to donate ‘Art Kits.’ This outreach shows that business are indeed among our neighbourhood heroes.

The healing road for Nova Scotians will be a long one, especially in the aftermath of the April mass shooting, but Halifax can count on family support centres, like Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre, to be on the front lines of that recovery.

Kelly Stone. Photo: Brittany Gawley

A Message from Kelly Stone,
President & CEO, Families Canada

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