COVID-19 Update to the Bernard Betel Centre Community (April 13)

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Dear Bernard Betel Centre Community,

During this period of Chol Hamoed Pesach (intermediate days of Passover), many of our Bernard Betel Centre staff, volunteers and members also celebrated Easter, while some prepare for the festival of Ramadan on April 23 and others prepare for the Sri Lankan New Year April 13.

Did you know that April is Celebrate Diversity Month? It was started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, the hope is that people will develop a deeper understanding of each other. Whether your family tradition was celebrating with large family gatherings or smaller more intimate gatherings, April is traditionally the time of year for getting together with friends and family breaking bread and or matzah together.

This year these celebrations are perhaps more important than ever. Our global community is challenged with the never before obstacle of staying connected in light of COVID-19 (social isolation, quarantine and social distancing.) Our cultural and religious expressions of celebration are limited to either celebrating alone, remotely, on Zoom and/or with those individuals that live in the same household. The meaning of community has taken on a broader definition.

The Bernard Betel Centre is a community within a community. We are a community of caring, compassionate staff, volunteers and members who genuinely care for the health and safety of each other, committed to remain engaged and connected to each other.

That is why our incredible and dedicated staff have continued to make daily phone calls to our members, Healthy at Home participants and Door to Door clients, checking in with them, providing available telephone resources and support, and delivering over 1,000 Meals on Wheels during these unprecedented times. Dayenu. (Translated in Hebrew – it would have been enough!) That is why the Betel program staff have developed an online April Program Calendar full of stimulating and engaging on-line programs. Dayenu. That is why the Betel staff are in the process of developing teleconferencing opportunities for those members without computers or that are uncomfortable accessing programs remotely. Dayenu. That is why the Betel chefs and cooks are working daily practicing physical distancing and our staff and volunteers assist with labelling, packaging, and delivering food for and during Passover. Dayenu. That is why our committed facilities staff are continuing to keep the kitchen and auditorium spotless so that the chefs, cooks, and staff can cook, label, package, and deliver these critical meals. Dayenu. That is why our administrative staff and management continue to provide leadership, post on our Facebook page, Twitter page, write proposals, government updates, and assist front-line staff where required and needed. Dayenu!  It would have been enough!

Did You Know?

  • From March 16 to April 8, our Volunteer Services Department, placed 23 volunteers to assist delivering Meals on Wheels for a total of 102 hours?
  • That during the week of April 8, CAA began delivering our Meals on Wheels to individual homes and condominiums?
  • That 7 of our English-speaking volunteers continued providing telephone Friendly Visiting/Respite care for a total of 60 hours?
  • That 7 of our Russian-speaking volunteers provided 84 hours of telephone Friendly Visiting/Respite care?
  • That 4 volunteers provided 7 hours of virtual on-line programming?
  • From March 17 to April 8, our Community Support Services Department made 1,391 phone calls to vulnerable seniors?
  • That we have 7 staff contacting these clients/participants and on average spend approximately 10-15 minutes on each call and 20-25 minutes speaking with our Door to Door clients?
  • Since March 26, we facilitated 13 virtual classes with approximately 75 participants and had 408 views of our online fitness program on our Facebook page?
  • Since March 17, our program and chiropody staff have made 1,950 check-in and safety calls to our Creative Living Day Program and Russian Golden Age Cultural Program membership?

In conclusion, this year as my husband and I celebrated both Passover Seders with our children and friends via Zoom, I was struck that no matter how far or close we all are, it is not about physical proximity. It is about the emotional, cultural and religious bonds we share. It is about community and the sharing of important moments and experiences that helps define all of us. This year the circumstances of telling the Passover story was indeed different. This year, at our Seder table instead of asking our Seder guests to name the ‘modern’ 10 plaques facing humanity we only named one plaque. This year, we were more tolerant, forgiving, and genuinely thankful for technology that was able to bring us together. This year we celebrated in good health in the safety of our homes.

Let’s continue to stay connected whether it be by telephone, computer and or social media in our own homes with the strong knowledge that people care about us and how fortunate we are to have technology to lessen our isolation.

Chag Pesach Sameach and happy, healthy holidays!

Stay healthy and safe.


Gail Gould
Executive Director
Bernard Betel Centre

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