Ponoka Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is continuing with its work in the community, helping its clients and vulnerable citizens while also maintaining safety.
Executive director Shannon Boyce-Campbell explained they have served people of all ages for more than 30 years and the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going to hinder that.
“We wish to continue to provide the safe, quality programs that the community has grown to rely on, and at the same time offer new programs to meet emerging needs,” Boyce-Campbell said in an email interview.
While the office remains closed to the public, to protect staff and vulnerable clients, staff are still working.
“We are answering calls, assisting people through the doors, transferring documents and all of our services remain intact,” she added.
“We have tried to accommodate people’s needs by having our health care aides, home support staff and handi-van drivers offering delivery of fee payments plus pick up and drop off if necessary.”
FCSS’s mission of building a safe and caring community through quality programs and services is still at the forefront, since they remain committed to its many programs — just with some adjustments.
Home care and home support have seen a slight dip in use along with some changes to procedures in order to maintain safety.
“Our amazing team has adapted, learned new skills and choose to continue to do everything they can to help,” she said.
Meals on Wheels has adjusted, adding a frozen meal program to meet some local needs, while their provider — Old Iron Horse Restaurant — was instrumental in implementing the COVID-19 regulations.
“They recently provided free meals to many clients and other community moms, including a mini bouquet,” Boyce-Campbell said, adding a shout out to the many volunteers that help with the deliveries.
The Canada Revenue Agency Volunteer Income Tax program has been plodding along due to the committed volunteers.
“They don’t get to see everyone face-to-face. However, taxes are getting done so no one misses out on any benefits,” she said.
The family therapist service is hosting virtual or phone meetings with new and existing clients, while the community garden will soon be starting with new recommended procedures to ensure safety.
Meanwhile, the handi-van has seen a dramatic decrease in use, so the service has seen a reduction in hours to 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Bookings are available by calling 403-783-0399 (in town) or 403-783-9752 (out of town).
“We have seen significant loss in ridership and need with many appointments and other events cancelled. However, we encourage people to call to make arrangements as we try our best to help people get to where they need to,” she said.
There is one new program coming in partnership with the Ponoka Agricultural Society. It’s called How does your garden grow? and provides participants with seeds and tips. More information is available on the FCSS website (www.ponokafcss.net) or Facebook page.
FCSS also has an online COVID-19 Economic Emergency List with contacts and information for a variety of services people may need.
“Safety is a priority, so as we continue our lifeline programs and services, living in isolation is a factor for many, not just in a pandemic, and we want them to know they have help if and when they need it,” she said.
“As our province opens up more, we do plan to continue adapting. Even when our doors are open again, we will be encouraging people to limit their exposure and only come to our office if necessary.
“We miss our face-to-face time with our many patrons and clients, so we have had a team of volunteers and staff calling and checking in on our seniors and finding out if they have any specific needs or if they would simply like to visit over the phone.”