Local Love in a Global Crisis, how our communities are responding to Covid-19

Before the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a Global Pandemic, local public health and social agencies, including United Way East Ontario, banded together to prepare to help the underserved face the pandemic. Their efforts created a buzz and several grassroots efforts have risen to help; those who are able are stepping up to create Local Love in a Global Crisis. This campaign offers deliveries of grocery and pharmacy items for seniors and adults with physical disabilities, telephone safety checks and Meals on Wheels. 

United Way East Ontario also acts as a hub for those needing to find support for domestic violence, local food banks, and community mental health resources. In times of crisis, having resources in one trusted place removes obstacles that seem insurmountable in these unprecedented times. There are offers of dog walking, conversation, supply shopping and drop-offs from community members like you and me, simply offering their time to their neighbours that need a hand. It’s not unlike watching a group of strangers help dig out a car in the middle of a snowstorm and these efforts are completely community-driven.

Among United Way’s dedicated volunteers, staff and fundraisers is runner Anna Belanger. Belanger has chosen the Scotiabank Ottawa ½ Marathon for her 8th year of participation in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, now gone virtual. 

United Way’s Local Love in a Global Crisis campaign resonated with this community advocate, who in the year previous donated 60 hours of massage to CHEO. This year she felt the plight of lonely seniors, those living in poverty, homeless youth and people living with mental illness, knowing that the current health crisis’ effect would be magnified for those members of our communities. 

Running long distances reflects Belanger’s resilience and dedication to United Way East Ontario and has left her unafraid to ask for donations to this worthy cause, suggesting people who are willing to forgo a take out meal, bottle of wine or specialty coffee, direct those funds to helping the hardest hit in our community. Providing transparent examples to her donors of precisely where their donations are directed builds her strong belief in this special campaign as seen in this Local Love in a Global Crisis video.

Belanger provided these valuable tips and suggestions of ways all of us can support the United Way East Ontario team, outside of running: “If you’re not able to run, supporting the fundraising initiatives of individual runners on team United Way via race roster is a great way to show your support.” 

United Way knows that not everyone is able to give right now. There are alternate ways that people can still show their support:

1) Stay informed: United Way has put together a list of resources to help you navigate COVID-19: https://www.unitedwayeo.ca/covid19-get-help 

2) Volunteer: Check out some of the available opportunities in your neighbourhood: https://www.unitedwayeo.ca/covid19-volunteer 

3) Amplify the love: Tell your networks about the ‘Local Love in a Global Crisis’ initiative by sharing the website: https://www.unitedwayeo.ca/covid19 

4) Sign up for United Way’s monthly, digital newsletter to stay in the know with all the latest updates and good news stories: https://www.unitedwayeo.ca/newsletter/ 

Tamarack Ottawa Virtual Race Weekend is incredibly honoured to shine the spotlight on Anna Belanger and The United Way East Ontario for putting our most vulnerable community members as a priority during this Global health and economic crisis. Please consider supporting this important initiative through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.