May 15, 2020

Helping The Community During COVID-19

By: Stiris

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Mr. Rogers

If there is one positive thing that may come out of this pandemic, it will likely be a renewed sense of community and a collective awareness of how interconnected we really are. Governments, business, communities, and families are all learning (with varied results) how to best manage a situation that the modern world has never faced. Through the fear, uncertainty, and toilet paper-panic-purchasing, there are the kind-hearted people who have stepped up in many ways to provide assistance to those around them. The Stiris family is lucky to have many such individuals around us:

 

SEWING MAMAS

Denise Palmer (Manager of Business Development) and her mom, Julia Newman

Our Manager of Business Development, Denise Palmer, always has the best Halloween costumes, courtesy of her skilled mother, Julia Newman. So, it’s no surprise that, when a need for masks arose, Julia tapped into her 50+ years of sewing experience and dug through her quilting fabric stash to create over 150 masks (and counting). Her masks have been delivered to the London Health Sciences Centre and Four Counties Hospitals, plus some lucky friends and family; “I have no problem staying home and sewing; it almost looks like I was preparing for this quarantine!” Julia was inspired by her nieces who work in health care and their coworkers’ need for masks. (Check online for your local hospital donation guidelines. For LHSC, see https://lhsf.ca/faq-ppe-donations and for Four Counties, see https://www.mhalliance.on.ca/news/covid-19-middlesex-hospital-alliance-needs-your-help-donations-welcomed/)

Helpful thought: “Thank you to ALL the front line workers. We need to follow the guidelines our government has put in place; they are there to keep us all safe, no matter what your age!”

 

Carrie Hamilton (Director of Clinical Science) and her mom, Barb Latondress

Carrie Hamilton, Director of Clinical Science, may not have the skills (or patience…) to dedicate to sewing, but fortunately, with her mom Barb helping out, she doesn’t need them (Carrie also contributes in other ways, such as ordering from local breweries, vineyards, markets, and shops). Barb has been sewing protective gowns for the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health, as well as masks for friends and family. She has also donated to national and local food banks (see more on this below), and purchased a t-shirt to support nurses through the Hearts and Smiles campaign (proceeds went to https://www.frontlinefund.ca/); “I worry about the people who are unemployed, business’ that may never be able to survive this pandemic. I also wonder what the new normal will look like. I have been a sewer for many years so to use it to give a little bit back is great!”

Helpful thought: “During these restrictions it is hard missing family and friends and the activities we usually enjoy. So, doing things like decluttering, baking, as well as jigsaw puzzles and crosswords are a few ways to ward off boredom.  Nice weather will permit gardening to happen soon!”

 

FOODIE FAMILIES

Sara DiPonio (Managing Director, Corporate Operations) and her sons, Lucas & Jacob DiPonio

Looking out for others in our community are Lucas & Jacob DiPonio, sons of our Managing Director of Corporate Operations, Sara DiPonio. The family collected things from home and picked up more essential items at the store: canned goods, pasta, good ol’ Kraft Dinner, etc. This is the second food drive that Professional with a Purpose (Oliver and Associates) has hosted that we have contributed to, with the items going to The London Food Bank (https://www.londonfoodbank.ca/how-to-help/donate-food/; check online for your local food back needs and locations).

“Donating food is easy! You already have to pick up food for yourself at some point, so take a look at the list of most needed items; shop; then donate. The food bank is doing all sanitizing of the product (no need to remove items from your shopping bags).”

Helpful thought: “These can be challenging times for many; however, every little bit can help. So even if you only have a couple things to donate, they will be appreciated!”

 

Lisa Discepola (Managing Director, Clinical Operations) and her daughter, Chiara Price

“On March 16th – it struck me, really hard. One of our favourite restaurant owner’s, Julian, posted on social media that he was going to be closing down due to the imminent restrictions on non-essential services. What I hadn’t realized was the cascade of events that led up to this point: the holiday period was great, then came dry January. Not many people frequented restaurants, but that was predictable. February saw a small uptick in business but then March came in with the threat of a pandemic and the rest is history. There was no time to even try to recover from slow weeks leading into the government shut down. When Julian reached out via social media, it was to sell off the food stocks he had in his fridge and freezer as to not waste any food and try to recoup some of the money he had spent. We went over and took what we could in terms of meats, and some prepared foods. There were so many restaurants in the same boat. So, we started to browse our favorite restaurants’ social media pages to see what we could do to help.  Lo and behold, many of them started acting as intermediaries to the food suppliers – they were also impacted! Many restaurants teamed up with their suppliers, local farmers etc. to continue as best they could, moving goods along the supply chain. Farmers can’t stop raising animals, but without suppliers/restaurants to sell to, what would happen to their livestock? Their livelihood? All this to say, that we now make concerted efforts to buy EVERYTHING we can from these sources, fruit and produce suppliers, direct from farm eggs and dairy as well as meat. I rarely go to big box grocery stores, they are not going to suffer through this crisis. We even pay a little more for toilet paper and cleaning supplies by buying them at the local mom and pop shops. It’s not much but even if these guys can survive and keep their heads above water rather than sink, it gives them a fighting chance.

My daughter and I have also made close to 100 masks that are going to an organization called “Masks for Everyone” – distributing them to first responders, street health, long term care homes, shelters, etc.  The group was started by a mom at my daughter’s school and she reached out to the school community to see if anyone could help. With nothing but time on our hands, we decided to dust off the old sewing machine and give it a go! I hadn’t sewn in over 16 years! It was like riding a bike – NOT! 😊The hardest part has been sourcing materials to make the masks, 100% cotton fabric, elastics and thread believe it or not! Cotton sheets are a great source of fabric. Learn more about the organization and how you can help/donate at: https://www.masksforeveryone.ca/.”

Helpful thought: “Try to look out for the vulnerable – they may be lonely or afraid, a small gesture can make a big difference in someone’s day.”

 

Want to know more about Stiris Research? Have a question? Just want to connect to another human being during a global crisis? Email us at info@stirisresearch.com.