Friendship and Kindness for All

Edson Friendship Centre delivers approximately 20 grocery packages a week to vulnerable families, thanks to Edmonton Community Foundation.

The new normal is following arrows on the grocery store floor and wearing masks in public, but many medically compromised people are still fearful of leaving their houses.

On the one hand, people are going about their business as regular. On the other hand, many have yet to get accustomed to the new public health safety rules.

“We understand that there has been a really big struggle on a lot of families,” said Kristie Gomwuka, Executive Director of Edson Friendship Centre. “A lot of us would like to know what the long- term effects of this pandemic will be, but we can see some of the consequences of it now, such as family structure and food security.”

Edson Friendship Centre is a non-profit organization that provides programs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous families in the Edson and surrounding areas. People in the community have been extra cautious with businesses re-opening, and expressed a need for help in getting necessities.

A $40,000 grant from Edmonton Community Foundation allowed Edson Friendship Centre to create the Indigenous COVID Response.

“It’s important that marginalized people have access to services to get them through this period,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement said.” It’s also important that they have a voice in what services are the priority and how they’re delivered. Edson Friendship Centre can do that for their community.”

The project supports families and individuals through a free delivery service and companion -shopping. Workers at the Edson Friendship Centre will shop and deliver essential items to vulnerable people who ask for help.

Edson Friendship Centre has been averaging 20 deliveries per week since the creation of the service two months ago.

The Government of Canada’s $350-million Emergency Community Support Fund aims to help charities and non-profit organizations adapt and increase frontline services for vulnerable populations during COVID-19.

Together, the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and United Way Centraide Canada are collaborating with the Government of Canada to flow ECSF support to those who need it most right now.

“We appreciate all of the help that ECF has been able to give us,” Gomwuka said. “This shows that there is wider community support given to individuals and families who are struggling.”

The long-term effects of the pandemic are still unpredictable, which is why Edson Friendship Centre hopes to continue helping the community as much as they can.

They plan to run the delivery service until March 2021.

“We underestimate the impact of isolation, and this offers families a link to the community again,” Gomwuka said. “And that’s what we’re going to need going forward; people knowing that there are other people who care.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.