• Nick Zacharias

Communities pulling together


Famille Déziel IGA stores like the one in Hudson (above), Saint Lazare and Vaudreuil-Dorion will be collecting empty bottles and cans on Saturdays in May to raise money for local charities Le Pont Bridging, La Source d’Entraide and L’Actuel to help those impacted by COVID-19.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced significant change on communities and presented many ongoing hardships incuding loss of work for individuals or businesses, difficulties of isolation and social distancing, and the frightening and sometimes devastating effects felt by families or loved ones of people struck directly by the virus.

It has also caused a great deal of positive action and an upswelling of community support.

“I’m floored how people have come together,” said Saint-Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo by phone. “It’s very clear that the community has stepped up.”

This can be seen in the attitudes and actions of individuals from respecting social distancing and volunteering their time, to municipalities organizing help and donating where they can, to businesses and staff on the front-lines who are serving the public and doing what they can to provide help.

Donating to help those in need

The municipality of Saint-Lazare has donated $2,000 to La Source d’Entraide in order to get help to those in the community suffering financial hardship. And they are not the only ones – IGA will be collecting bottles and cans from customers for the remaining Saturdays in May to raise money for La Source d’Entraide, as well for other community organizations like Le Pont Bridging in Hudson and L’Actuel in Vaudreuil-Dorion. There have been many changes in the stores of late, and IGA co-owner Anthony Déziel says they want to do what they can for the community. “We’re trying this out and I hope this is a way we can help some people.”

Adapting for the times

Local businesses like Infografilm in Les Cèdres and Steer Medical in Vaudreuil-Dorion are ramping up and producing face shields for the sudden upswing in demand for personal protective equipment. “This is not our normal business” said Michael Froncioni of Steer Medical, “but with the drop in elective surgeries and the increased need for face shields, we had to make a rapid change to our production, and we’re now rolling out Health Canada approved models.”

Meeting needs of seniors

Hudson’s Director-General Philip Toone pointed without hesitation to Nova Health in Hudson as an enormous help. “They were there right off the mark,” he said, “working with the town to set up the ‘Buddy Program’ for seniors.”

Adult volunteers will call seniors who are living in self-isolation and sign up for the program to check on them, to help them fill daily needs or even just chat and help them cope with the quarantine restrictions. Says Toone, “We’ve had dozens and dozens of people signed up on both sides, both seniors and volunteers to call them and make sure they’re okay.” All the details on the buddy program are on the town’s website.

Slowly adapting going forward

“We’ll be opening the parks again this weekend in Hudson,” says Toone, “though the playing equipment will still be out of bounds. We’re also working very hard to make sure the daycamp programs are ready to open safely, and we’re expecting final guidelines to come soon from the provincial government.”

Re-opening of businesses is the next challenge.

Says Grimaudo in Saint-Lazare, “It’s a difficult position to be in - safety has to come first, but the necessity of supporting local businesses is also high.” For those who have been working all along he had nothing but praise.

“Hats off to all the town employees who are doing a great job. And to workers everywhere exposing themselves to potential danger every day to provide essential services for all of us. These people are heroes.”