Kerby Centre in a pandemic: Empty, but far from idle

The Kerby Centre offers, among other things, an elder abuse shelter and grocery delivery program, both of which it continues to operate through the pandemic.

After closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic  the Kerby Centre’s cafeteria is empty, but the kitchen is still working, preparing meals to be delivered to many of its regualr lunchtime clients.

“We started because we were worried for the caregivers for those seniors, but we're also worried about the seniors not having the center to rely on so we thought we'll bring the center out to them.”  said Kerby Centre CEO Larry Mathieson, in an interview with CTV News.

”We figured a  great thing to do would be to come bearing gifts, and by gifts, we mean frozen food."

The Kerby Centre is expanding its Grocery Delivery Program (Thrive) which delivers groceries and medication . It also continues to support the senior community by operating its elder abuse shelter as well as manning the phones to offer information resources to seniors.

“They always go 100 percent,” said Gay Bowman, 60. “Whether it’s just talking to you or helping you out, they’re always there.”

Tuesday Bowman was one of the Kerby clients recieving a shipment of frozen foods.

“Make you feel wonderful. They're very caring people.” Says Bowman “They phoned me two or three different times already (since COVID-19 self isolation started),  just to see how I’m doing. And if there's anything I needed.”

Zane Novak delivered Bowman’s food.  He’s also the president of the board for the Kerby Centre.

“In  our cafeteria is the opportunity to have a good meal, a good balanced ‘cover all your food group’ style of meal, and when this is taken out of our normal client’s daily life that is a serious part, or missing spoke in  that hub of good health.”  said Novak “So by us being able to take meals to our clients, and others who need it,  we feel that we're providing an essential, potentially almost-life saving part of what people need for their daily health.”

The Kerby Centre also manages an elder abuse shelter for those who have found themselves in a neglectful or abusive environment. The shelter normally offers dining and common areas where clients  can socialize, watch television and meet other people, but isolation is now the norm. Residents of the shelter can’t go to the common area, and have no access to television, to make phone calls, or sociailize.

As a result the Kerby Centre is calling for donations of iPads or similar tablets to give to shelter residents.

“Our rooms in the shelter, they’re not a long-term placement, so there’s no televisions,” said Mathieson. “So, with the iPads people are donating, we can actually have our seniors have a chance to watch Netflix or whatever they would normally watch in the common area.”

Mathieson also said they would serve as communication tools for their seniors to connect with family and friends outside of the shelter via FaceTime or Skype.

So far, they have received four iPads/tablets for the shelter which is nearly half way to their target goal of 10.

To donate to the Kerby Centre you can go to www.kerbycentre.com or call their main reception line at (403)265-0661.

With files from Sean Marks