To say it has been a long, difficult, 20 months since closing our doors to our members would be an understatement!
As most of you know, the Bernard Betel Centre was closed to our membership by the Province of Ontario in March 2020. We were fortunate to remain open to provide the much needed ‘essential service’ of our Meals on Wheels program. This program has continued to grow as the need in the community to provide kosher meals on wheels has dramatically increased due to both the pandemic and the increased number of seniors in the community requiring financial assistance and food. Our Meals on Wheels program has been blessed to have the most committed staff and volunteers assist with preparation and delivery of these much needed meals. Thank you to this incredible team for their unwavering commitment and dedication.
In August 2020, the Province allowed the Betel Centre to reopen our Chiropody services to the hundreds of our members requiring these important health services, stipulating that we develop our own Return to Work Plan and Program Procedures Manual outlining our required health and safety policies and procedures. At the same time, we continued to provide exemplary online and telephone conferencing programs to hundreds of seniors on a weekly basis. In addition to these programs, the past two summers have allowed us to offer innovative programs outside in the community either at one of our Healthy at Home locations through balcony concerts and a Shabbat meal delivery, or lectures and computer programs on the back patio of the Bernard Betel Centre. All following appropriate health and safety protocols.
Since July 2021, many of you know that the Centre has been undergoing significant renovation to both inside the kitchen and the main hall bathrooms. Through the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and a New Horizons for Seniors Program grant we began the daunting task of renovation. This would be a huge endeavour at the best of times, but especially during the pandemic when it has been a struggle to find contractors and supplies necessary for the renovation. As such the renovation (no surprise to anyone who has done personal home renovation) has taken much longer and is more expensive than anticipated.
While all our staff are anxious to reopen our building and their hearts to you, we are challenged with needing to complete the renovation so that we have functioning washrooms and a building that is not under construction. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to open slowly ensuring appropriate capacity levels in each room early in the New Year pending completion of our washrooms. We understand that is has been a long time in coming and that our community is more than ready to return to the Centre, ensuring that we adhere to our Mandatory Vaccination Policy and health and safety protocols.
The pandemic has taught us a lot about the critical importance for all of us to feel connected to community and experience human interaction and connection on a variety of different levels. Prior to the pandemic, many of us strived for creating caring communities where we felt safe, welcome, and a sense of belonging. We looked for communities that provided us with a sense of purpose, meaning, intellectual, and emotional fulfilment. In a society that is mobile, where families are spread around the world and where we were not allowed to congregate together with family and or friends for many months, we are anxious to return to the Centre to be with our peers, neighbours, and friends to create our communities of caring and support.
I feel blessed and thankful to be part of the Bernard Betel Centre ‘community of caring’ where our members, community participants, staff, and volunteers genuinely care about each other and create an environment of warmth, compassion, and tolerance.
My prayer for the New Year… and for all of us, is that we return to the Centre (date still unknown) and we reopen in good health, and celebrate the miraculous power and passion of community.
From the Bernard Betel Centre Board of Directors and staff, we wish everyone, a happy, healthy holiday season of laughter, love and life! (Stay tuned for reopening information in the New Year!)