The pandemic has impacted everyone, including those facing unemployment, or parents who took time away from work to care for young children when schools closed last spring.
With COVID-19 still with us as schools reopen, many families continue to face issues around employment and food security. That's where Families Helping Families comes in.
An initiative of Arts on the Ave, an organization dedicated to positive urban renewal in Edmonton's Alberta Ave. area, the unique project matches a family in need with another volunteer family who will buy and deliver groceries twice a month.
Families Helping Families is still looking for close to 200 families in the Edmonton area to commit to the project.
“At any time of the year families in certain parts of the city need support,” says Arts on the Ave Executive Director Christy Morin. “Volunteers for the Families Helping Families initiative are desperately needed at this time, as many folks are out of work or have no access to school meal support, and are lacking the protein and nutritional needs families and children require.”
Initiative organizer Erika Hudon-Kaide said the project is a direct way for families to connect with each other and get the basics: food for the table.
"At first, we gave out grocery gift cards, but this targets actual grocery needs," said Hudon-Kaide. "Many families don't have access to a vehicle or are uncomfortable to reach out and ask for help. This is a simple process where a family calls to be placed on the list for help," she said. "We've already heard heartwarming stories from both the families who've volunteered and those who've received the help, about how much they value this connection."
A volunteer family is asked for a six-month committment of buying and delivering groceries ($75 budget per shop) for a partner family living in the central Edmonton neighbourhood. Families Helping Families will pair the groups and facilitate communication, such as confirming the shopping list.
Where a volunteer family can't make the full six month commitment or is able to drive but not buy the groceries, for example, organizers say they can still make it work.
"It's up to us as a community to come together and help those in need," she added. "By volunteering to shop for groceries for a family, you and your family will help bring much needed support to those in need, especially during these pandemic times."
Morin said she loves going shopping for the family she has been matched with. "The family wants to eat well; they've got kale, fish, and asparagus on the list," she said. "This program alllows families to communicate; it removes the 'other' and helps people realize we're all alike."
"Families helping Families fits our mandate of being advocates and humanitarians--of seeing hope and value in one another," she said. "We use the arts as our toolkit, but it really takes a village, as food security is one of the biggest issues in our community."
Interested families can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 780-471-1580.
Arts on the Ave Edmonton Society is a registered non-profit, charity organization engaged in developing 118th Avenue (75 – 106 Streets) into a community arts district.