COVID-19 Update to the Bernard Betel Centre Community (April 27)

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Dear Bernard Betel Centre Community,

This past week more than 19,000 Canadians across our great country participated in a unique Holocaust Remembrance Day program broadcast marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. Yom Hashoah remembers the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.  As many of you are painfully aware, there are fewer than 100,000 Jews still alive today who were in camps, ghettos, and living secretly under Nazi occupation, according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

This online cross-Canada remembrance presentation allowed us to come together as a nation to pay tribute and remember the victims, and to pay tribute to our Bernard Betel Centre Holocaust survivors, and the Canadian community of survivors.

As is traditional in Judaism, we often go from sorrow to celebration. This evening we mark the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, also known as Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day, before we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 72nd Day of Independence beginning on Tuesday evening.

This past week we celebrated National Volunteer Week, which provided us the opportunity to thank our incredible volunteers. Our volunteers are the backbone of the Betel Centre, and the heart and soul of our community. Without their compassion, dedication, and professionalism, the Bernard Betel Centre would not be able to function. We are genuinely blessed to have 330 volunteers and 107 corporate volunteers who contributed 22,150 hours of volunteer time making it possible for us to serve the over 5,000 seniors we have the privilege of providing programs and services.

During the past two weeks, our Betel staff have been busy continuing to call and check-in on our membership, Healthy at Home participants, and Door to Door clients. We have also been developing more online programs offered through Zoom and Facebook Live. Our program staff are busy planning some new and exciting online programs for May in both English, Spanish, French, and Russian. Join me for my monthly Tea with Gail via Zoom on Tuesday, May 5, at 10:30 am.

Two weeks ago, the Centre was approached by an independent filmmaker wanting to make a mini documentary highlighting the experience of front-line workers and the impact of COVID-19 on them. Last Thursday, our Betel staff were filmed in this documentary showcasing our kitchen staff preparing hundreds of meals while Betel program and administration staff labeled, packaged and filled soup containers and then delivered the over 1,000 meals cooked each week. The filmmakers were impressed by the high level of organization, efficiency, professionalism, and strong passion demonstrated by the Betel staff. Our front-line staff and volunteers who come to the Betel Centre on a daily basis to ensure that meals are cooked, packaged, and delivered are our heroes. Their dedication and commitment to ensure seniors are fed is inspirational. In addition, the hundreds of phone calls made each week by staff to clients and members checking-in to ensure the safety and well-being of our members and community is awe-inspiring and greatly appreciated.

Did you know?

  • In the first month of COVID 19, the demand for our Meals on Wheels increased by 26%;
  • There was a 40% increase in seniors requesting support regarding their social isolation;
  • There was a 30% increase in Holocaust survivors reaching out for help;
  • Our staff are currently seeking additional funding to support the growing need of seniors’ requiring food through our Meals on Wheels program by applying for government and community grants;
  • Community members and or businesses have reached out donating and/or wanting to donate masks, gift cards for seniors requiring food, games to keep seniors engaged, and chocolates as treats;
  • This past week we were asked to be part of a consultation with Mayor Tory regarding the experience of seniors in the community and specifically those living in Long-Term Care Homes.

So what does all this mean? In my mind, it means we are a community that has come together to support each other during these challenging times. We are a community that reaches out to those alone or lonely; that provides food and a friendly and caring voice to those on the other end of the telephone; that puts the needs of others first before their own; that are genuinely  committed about the well-being and safety of our seniors and of each other. On Sunday night our Canadian music industry came together and said it best… we are “stronger together!”


Gail Gould
Executive Director
Bernard Betel Centre

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