Everyone has suffered in one form or another during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the days since. However, no one has felt the ill effects more than seniors and other vulnerable persons. Many had, and some continue to be, the victims of obligatory and extended home isolation and have not dared to venture outside even for the bare necessities of life.
St. Peter’s recognized this unease early on as the pandemic began to emerge. They immediately formed a small committee to assist seniors and other vulnerable people gain access to necessities by running errands to the drug store, food marts, or any other amenity required for their security. All support was offered, given, and accepted in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, where no one served was subject to any risk to their health.
In late spring, The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a program called “Students Supporting Communities.”, whereby they offered a grant for 8 weeks, to qualifying organizations, to hire a student to aid seniors in a variety of ways during these trying times. The government recognized that physical distancing and isolating can take a toll on mental health, especially for seniors and vulnerable members of our community who are already at heightened risk of loneliness and feelings of depression. Government Cabinet Minister Christopher Mitchelmore stated: “The Students Supporting Communities Program will facilitate those connections by mobilizing students to help individuals connect with and access vital supports and services.”
Enter 17-year-old Darcy Scott, a grade 12 student at Queen Elizabeth Regional High, and an accomplished musician. Darcy was hired in late June, and became St. Peter’s “Student Supporting our Community.” He began by forging a plan to reach as many seniors and vulnerable persons as possible, by letter, by telephone, by email, and through social media. He offered several services, including running errands, grass cutting, technology training, his gift of music, and simple safe distance visits. A more than anticipated number took advantage of his services and were delighted with their success.
One of Darcy’s main duties was to bring his newfound friends up to date on computer literacy, helping them to navigate through the nuisances of the iPad, personal computer, and smart phone. Most yearned for the ability to view St. Peter’s weekly Sunday service and Rev’d Bill’s Wednesday evening Bible study on their electronic devices. And some also learned or built on their skills of email and even face timing. Darcy and his benefactors surprised each other with the significant amount of progress achieved. Said Darcy, “I had a great summer; I met great people, mostly seniors, many of whom have become friends.”
St. Peter’s Rector, the Rev’d Bill Strong, says Darcy’s work with seniors has been amazing. “We are happy and incredibly pleased that he joined St. Peter’s this past summer, spreading his knowledge and personality around the community—especially with our seniors during this difficult time. He truly made a difference,” said Strong.
And the good deeds of this program will continue throughout the winter. Darcy has agreed to continue with St. Peter’s in his work with seniors on a part time basis for the next few months. St. Peter’s is grateful for his service, and so are the seniors of our community.