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Caremongering is catchy

Individuals and businesses alike offer care in the face of crisis
A photo or phone call can provide the caring connection people need PHOTO by Neil Zeller

There’s a new word for these new times, to go along with social distancing. It’s Caremongering—a term being used on social media to identify groups of people banding together to offer help and resources to anyone in need during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Calgary and Edmonton, Facebook groups YEG Community Response and YYC Covid-19 Volunteers continue to attract posts offering help from young and old to the vulnerable, isolated and lonely.   

Two Canadians, Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, started Choir! Choir! Choir! a singing drop-in to help combat isolation caused by social distancing measures. To check for the next live sing-along, follow their Facebook page.  

At Angel’s Café in Calgary, owner Cathy Jacobs and staff used up the last delivery of supplies to make freezable meals for anyone in need, before the café was shut down due to the Covid emergency. “I’d rather give the food away than to see it go bad. Angels helping angels,” she wrote on Facebook. Since that initital week, Jacobs has continued the effort, turning the Café into a hamper preparation hub for those in isolation who can’t get out to gather essential foods. While she has plenty of fruit and vegetables, Jacobs said hamper donations are still welcome, with the greatest need for meat, rice and pasta. 

In Calgary and Edmonton, local photographers are bringing their skills to neighbourhoods for porch photos, a way to document these isolating times and connect with fellow residents. Even with a small fee or request for donation, the projects are resonating with Albertans because of their 'we're all in this together' spirit.

"A porch photo can be a moment of joy in what is a worrisome time for many," said Calgary photographer Neil Zeller.

Staying connected is important. Sage Seniors Association in Edmonton has implemented a friendly call program, where any of the 6,000 individuals the organization serves each year can sign up to receive an occasional phone call. 

“Especially for those without family or a caregiver, something simple like a call to connect is very important,” said SAGE executive director Karen McDonald. 

Those interested should call 780-423-5510 and press 5 to leave a message requesting to be added the list.  

Front line workers are offering the medical and physical care that is critical during this crisis, and even retired doctors and nurses and students in medicine and nursing have answered the call for help. To do their part, the 8,000-member Canadian Federation of Medical Students — which includes students at the University of Alberta — has been doing everything from babysitting children of health-care workers to manning the phones at 811 call centres, said association president Victor Do. 

"Most people refer to it as spreading care but we come back to our professional responsibility," Do said. “For us, it really means spreading kindness and humanity in a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear and worry. We just thought ‘How can we help each other and try to get through that?’ "

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Feeling like you’re doing something in a situation where there’s little to be done but ‘wash your hands’ and practice social distancing is difficult for most. Wanting to contribute is likely the impetus behind the wave of distillers across the country getting into the hand-sanitizer trade. Whether offered for free to hospitals and local businesses, or for a small charge or donation by individuals, it’s not hard to see why alcohol producers are trying to do their part to help during the emergency. In Calgary, the Annex Ale Project is seeing the local brewery work with other distilleries to produce hand sanitizer to shore up critically low stocks across the city. The company is even donating some of the stock to the food bank, homeless shelters and other charities in need.  The so-called crisis-grade hand sanitizer canned product will be sold with the intent of refilling sanitizer, shampoo or soap bottles.  

Within days of the Calgary brewery’s announcement, an avalanche of others around Alberta have followed suit: Two Rivers Distillery, Black Diamond Distillery, Burwood Distillery, Eau Claire Distillery, Hanson Distillery and Strathcona Spirits (in Edmonton) among others. Even national giant Labatt’s Brewery is joining the hand sanitizer party, with all helping fill a need where they see one. 

Even turning on the radio can be of solace when care is needed, with music able to soothe the soul like nothing else. To respond in this anxious time, CKUA has created a calendar of live performance web streams.