Volunteers Jun. 18, 2020

At Habitat Windsor-Essex, volunteers are sewing masks for the community

Like all local Habitats across Canada, Habitat Windsor-Essex has had to adapt quickly to the ‘new normal’ in order to prioritize the health and safety of volunteers, staff and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. While they closed the doors to their ReStore temporarily, they moved to online sales and curbside pick-up.

Ensuring the health and safety of their volunteers meant temporarily ceasing many volunteer activities. But many of their volunteers, and staff, were eager to help in other ways to support the community.

“Our volunteers are the driving force of our success when we are able to operate,” says Hope Lovell, the community outreach manager for Habitat Windsor-Essex, which is why she called a close-knit, dedicated group of ReStore volunteers the first week the local Habitat closed its doors. “Our main focus from the beginning was to keep our Habitat family connected, and ensure they were in good health,” she says.

That initial group of volunteers then helped her check-in on anyone who’d contributed more than 10 hours of their time to the local Habitat in the past year as part of their ‘wellness calls’. Habitat Windsor-Essex also ensured they were reaching out to all 74 Habitat homeowners in the Windsor-Essex region via letter and phone call as well as organizing the delivery of groceries to homeowners and volunteers who may have trouble accessing food and other essentials right now.

The Habitat Windsor-Essex team learned that organizations in their community, including build partners such as Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario (A.L.S.O.) and national Habitat supporter Revera, needed additional masks for frontline workers and clients. Habitat Windsor-Essex’s CEO, Fiona Coughlin, knows these partners are offering vital services to some of the community’s most vulnerable citizens, such as seniors and those with disabilities, and knew that it was their turn to give back.

When Hope approached the volunteers with the opportunity, eight or nine initially signed on to sew masks, and that’s since grown to more than 20. Since they started, the volunteers have sewn 1000 cloth masks for A.L.S.O. as well as two of Revera’s local long-term care homes.

Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario has partnered with Habitat Windsor-Essex on a number of builds to ensure the homes are built with accessibility in mind for Habitat homeowners who have physical disabilities in the family. At A.L.S.O., the masks are being used by clients who don’t have the option to practice physical distancing, like people with disabilities who require frequent visits for personal care, or people in need of dialysis and cancer treatments.

Revera has been a national partner since 2018. Their employees have helped raise much-needed funds to local Habitats such as Habitat Windsor-Essex in addition to receiving a recent donation of cloth masks to two of Revera’s long-term care homes located in Windsor.

“Our relationship with Habitat for Humanity Canada is an important part of life in our homes and residences. Each year we raise money and participate in Habitat Build Days to support them and it meant so much to our staff for Habitat Windsor-Essex to lend their support to us during this pandemic. It’s truly heartwarming to see our community pulling together through these times,” said David Tower, Executive Director at Riverside Place and Michelle Lebert, Director of Care at Iler Lodge in Windsor.

Find your local Habitat to learn more about their response to COVID-19, and what you can do to help low-income families impacted in your community.