Silver Linings Stories

Behind the Masks: An Unlikely Trio Steps Up to Help Safeguard Staff

What do a realtor, an 84 year-old retiree and a tailor have in common?

While that may sound like the opening line of a joke, the correct answer is: they are all Kinsight heros! The trio leapt into action to help protect our staff and the people we serve.

The nation-wide shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has left many essential care workers feeling vulnerable during this pandemic, including our employees.

Until recently, Kinsight’s inventory of face masks was uncomfortably low.  Along with our industry colleagues, we spend the better part of March exhausting leads for more.

The dead ends, however, did not deter Michelle McCormick. She was on a mission! Michelle, an Adult Services supervisor, and her colleagues were determined to source protective gear for Kinsight staff and that meant thinking more creatively.

Michelle turned to social media and a Facebook community group called “On Common Ground.”  She shared a post asking for PPE leads, and explained that the gear would be used by Essential Care workers.

Within moments, Michelle’s phone blew up. “It was incredible to see how quickly people jumped on the request. I was in a meeting and the responses were flying in,” she recalls.

Among the people who stepped up was Anna, a real estate professional, and her 84-year-old mother. With her business on hold, Anna and her mom committed to producing 100 cloth masks.

“I think they stayed up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning so that we would have them within 24 hours,” Michelle says. “The masks are beautifully made in colourful patterns.”

In addition, Michelle and Tanya Goodine, Residential Supervisor, sourced more masks from Leah, a seamstress who lives across the street from one of our residential homes, and Matthews Tailors of Surrey.

Within a week, the three suppliers were able to produce nearly 300 non-medical masks, which have been distributed to Kinsight employees who work directly with people we serve.

“It was a wonderful feeling to be able to support our staff. I can’t say enough about our team working in Residential Services,” Michelle explains.

“It isn’t possible for that team to physically distance themselves in their line of work,” Michelle continues. “To be able to provide them with something that would help reduce their anxiety was an incredible feeling.”

An additional supply of masks is being produced and Kinsight will distribute them to all staff and Shared Living Providers in the weeks ahead.

“A heart felt thank you to Michelle, Tanya and Karen Pilgrim, who were behind this tremendous effort,” says Tess Huntly, Director of Adult Services. “And we are so grateful for the support of our community,” she adds.

For more information about Kinsight’s Personal Protective Equipment and pandemic plans, please visit Spotlight, our employee site.  If you have questions, please contact Gareth or Tess.


Kickboxing and Karaoke: Staying Connected with Co Make Do

Whether introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between, everyone needs some form of social interaction. When many activities and events have been cancelled from the pandemic, a new initiative called Co Make Do has re-ignited connection through free online experiences. From Karaoke and cooking, to fashion and high tea, Co Make Do was created to support individual well-being of people we serve and to connect them to the wider world.

LIFE Based Services Supervisor Julian Avelino hosted his first Co Make Do kickboxing session over Zoom last week. As a long-time martial arts enthusiast, he is no stranger to teaching people about kickboxing techniques. While many workouts can seem daunting, Julian explains that the process of kickboxing is fun, which makes it easier for beginners to get into.

“So many things have been taken away because of the pandemic, it’s important for people to have something to look forward to,” he says, reflecting on the value of staying active and taking part in virtual social activities. “I’m seeing relationships develop during the pandemic that might not have happened before.”

Co Make Do is something positive that has come out of a difficult situation. Building from their shared vision to re-imagine social services, this new platform is a joint initiative of BACI, Kinsight, posAbilities and InWithForward.

“We now have a wealth of experiences hosted by community members generously giving their time, and helping people to find a new hobby or make a meaningful connection,” Julian remarked. “This platform could last far beyond the end of the pandemic.”

To find out more about Co Make Do and to see upcoming experiences, visit their website.


Safeway Steps Up to Stock Kinsight’s Food Baskets

Amidst the worry and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, there have been moments of great kindness and hope. Recently, our silver lining came by way of Safeway. A huge thank you to the Austin Avenue Safeway and Manager Mick Ghuman for their $500 donation.

Ghuman tapped into the Safeway Community Action Fund to help out neighbours in the Austin community.

In addition to the financial donation, Ghuman set aside special stock for our homes. The support has allowed Consultant Maggie Vilvang to secure essential goods for the people we serve, including bathroom tissue, which is increasingly difficult to find. Safeway continues to help with our weekly staff shop during early morning hours when the shelves are fully stocked, and provides us with a 10% discount, as a not-for-profit organization.

“We appreciate the efforts of our local store manager helping his surrounding vulnerable residents, as he continues to maintain the full store stock throughout this critical time,” explained Kinsight’s Community Development leader Heidi Maddrell, who helped obtain the donation. Thank you, Safeway and staff!



Hearts of Gratitude: A Kinsight Community Shout Out

Across the country and around the world, thousands of individuals are standing on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. From doctors and caregivers, to postal workers and parents – it is their hard work and endless perseverance that keep us safe, informed and provided for.

Stories of hope and hearts of gratitude illustrate how much each of us is impacted by health care workers and people providing essential services. When a crisis arises, our need for food, medicine and basic goods does not go away.

To show their deep gratitude, Amanda and Kristy who live with a Shared Living provider have put up a string of rainbow hearts to adorn their entryway. After hearing about it on the news, they decided to make hearts for all the workers who still have to work. Look closely and you will see what is written upon them: “Moms and Dads, Delivery Drivers, RCMP, EMTs, Truckers, Janitors, Nurses, Pharmacists”. Carefully decorated with stickers and laminated to last through the rain, each heart is a sign for neighbours and passersbys to stop and give thanks.

A heart of gratitude also goes out to our amazing Kinsight family, and our team of staff who are working tirelessly to provide essential services to families and individuals in our community. Your kindness and dedication continues to shine through your work during this challenging time.



Unlikely Heroes: Dulux Paints and Sherwin-Williams Equip Staff with Protective Wear

Coveralls and gloves, equipment normally associated with painting a room in your house, have become a hot commodity. The painters’ gear is a creative and excellent solution to the wide-spread shortage of personal protective equipment.

This week, Kinsight received a generous deal on supplies from unlikely heroes.  A big thank you to Joyson and his crew at Dulux Paints, and Sanjeev and the team at Sherwin-Williams Paints on Barnet Highway for offering 50% off the personal protection wear. Both groups were very motivated to help us, and we could not have been met with a warmer welcome and show of support.

As Kinsight continues to reach out to businesses in the community, we are inspired by the many individuals looking to help in any way that they can.



Keeping it Cool: Trail Appliances Donates Fridge and Freezer

Step into our Salisbury Community Inclusion centre and you will be met with an unfamiliar sight. Consultants carefully putting together activity kits, staff assembling boxes of food, appliances rolling in through the door; this is the scene of Kinsight’s home-base for COVID-19.

Unprecedented times have called for us to quickly adapt our services and transform our work spaces. One of these changes has been the large amount of groceries that must be stored and sorted before being sent out to people served. A heart-felt thank you to Trail Appliances, who answered our call for help and generously donated a fridge and freezer, despite their store being closed. Special thanks to the President James Reynolds who quickly approved the thoughtful donation and Adam Kossack, who arranged everything from start to finish.

In addition to the Trail refrigerator and freezer, we received two additional freezers. Adam personally donated a freezer, as did the Hewat family – bringing our total to four much needed appliances. A special shout out to Adam and the Hewat family and to the volunteer delivery driver from My House Design/Build.  Collectively, their support has allowed us to deliver food and supplies in a time when people need it the most.