Due to the pandemic, many people are facing profound hardships, including the loss of loved ones and livelihoods, as well as increased social isolation. In particular, the elderly face special challenges with regard to their mental and psychological well-being. Social distancing, although a crucial strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19, is a major cause of loneliness, particularly in nursing homes. This puts older adults at greater risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Those who do not have nearby family or friends and rely on the support of voluntary services or social care face additional risk.
The Yellow Door is a nonprofit community organization that brings together university-aged students with seniors from the Peter-McGill neighbourhood to combat social isolation and create meaningful connections across generations. Many of their programs, such as their Wellness Groups, are geared towards helping vulnerable seniors stay connected with their communities while promoting mental and physical wellness.
Before the pandemic, volunteers visited senior members of the Peter-McGill neighbourhood in their homes and helped them with appointments and errands. The Yellow Door also hosted many activities that gave youth and seniors an opportunity to be together, including yoga, Community Hour, and Book Club. Naturally, the pandemic has drastically changed how The Yellow Door operates, as all activities have moved online and strict safety protocols for in-person visiting have been enacted. Mariel Edwards-Carreau, the administrative coordinator at The Yellow Door, explained how the organization has adapted to the pandemic.
“Our staff and volunteers worked very hard in the spring to help our senior members feel comfortable [using] platforms such as Zoom to stay connected,” Edwards-Carreau said. “We rely on the internet and phone calls a lot these days but have been lucky to have an increase of volunteers willing to help during these times.”
One event still taking place is the Annual Benefit Dinner, one of The Yellow Door’s main fundraising campaigns.
“By donating to this fundraiser, we are able to provide seniors with both a delicious and nutritious meal and a chance to connect with other members during the holidays,” Edwards-Carreau said. “For some of our members, it is the only holiday event they have [….] The Annual Benefit Dinner also helps fund our programming so that we can continue helping our isolated members throughout the rest of the year.”
In previous years, the Annual Benefit Dinner took place in person at a restaurant with the entire Yellow Door team, live music, holiday decorations, and festive food. This year, members will gather under very different circumstances. On Dec. 10, a team of volunteers and Yellow Door staff will deliver meals to seniors’ doors and host a live online piano concert that allows community members to dine together safely. Dedicated volunteers, local caterers, and donations are making this year’s dinner possible.
“We’ve heard feedback from some of our members that other organizations are simply not having holiday events this year due to the pandemic, so we feel grateful that we can still provide them with a little bit of normalcy and something to look forward to during these uncertain times,” Edwards-Carreau said. “As much as we are sad that we can’t be together in person, everyone is really excited that we can still celebrate the holidays together.”
If you want to donate to The Yellow Door’s Annual Benefit Dinner, visit their website here. Checks and cash can always be mailed to 3625 Aylmer, Montreal, QC H2X 2C3. For information about volunteer opportunities at The Yellow Door, click here or contact The Yellow Door at [email protected].