Durham hotline helps residents amid coronavirus pandemic

Durham residents who need help or feel isolated during the novel coronavirus pandemic now have an outlet to reach out to.

Durham Region Care Mongers is running a hotline made up of local volunteers with big hearts.

“There is change and disruption coming but there doesn’t have to be suffering,” said Zachary Simmons, a volunteer with the group.

Hoisting cases of water and supplies, Simmons, 33, is on a mission to help another Oshawa resident affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve personally done runs to just make sure people with medical devices are getting distilled water that they need, that mothers and their families are getting food that they need that they might not be able to access,” said Simmons.

Durham Region Care Mongers is a grassroots group of volunteers helping those in need or feeling isolated.

“We’re just your neighbours ready to support you as best we can,” said Niki Lundquist, one of more than 800 volunteers in Whitby.

Since the 1-888-573-0982 hotline started over the weekend, they’ve already received dozens of calls.

“We needed to do something because people were feeling hopeless and because we knew that there were going to be community needs that were going to be unmet. We needed to come up with a community response that was unprecedented,” said Lundquist.

Depending on the call, the appropriate resources are co-ordinated and deployed.

Right now, Lundquist says the pressing needs are emotional and food supports.

“We talked about people who are under isolation or quarantine who are going to need groceries or medicine, people who are ill who need their dog walked, who need emergency child care,” said Lundquist.

The big-hearted sense of community volunteerism hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Anyone that’s coming forward and helping residents today needs to be thanked. We are a community, we work together during good times and bad times and this is one of those times,” said Durham regional chair John Henry.

While there are more volunteers than those who need help right now, Lundquist says she knows that will likely change — sooner rather than later.

Next week’s mission: starting a food bank challenge in Whitby to collect as many donations as they can.

“We are all here, we are all in this together. We are going to support each other, we are going to fill the gaps for one another,” said Lundquist.

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