The New Year is already not going as planned for On Rock Community Services. The Pierrefonds-Roxboro non-profit has temporarily closed the doors to its food bank and thrift shop, after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
On Rock’s president, Kim Reid, closed the resource on Dec. 22 after learning one staff member had tested positive.
“So we all got tested and we’re all following the protocol for quarantine.” he said.
Just one other employee’s test came back positive, according to Reid. He considers them lucky, as the two employees have minor symptoms.
“One staff had a sore throat and the other one, he was congested and lost his sense of smell but that’s it, so we’re lucky.”
In order for the staff members and volunteers to finish quarantining, the food bank will open a week later than expected, on Jan. 11. That left employees to break the news this past week, over the phone, to the 300 families On Rock serves.
“Actually the response from the clients was very positive all the way around,” Reid said. “They were thankful and happy that we were taking the precautions that we were.”
On Rock’s last distribution date was before Christmas. Reid says clients received more food than usual, enough for over a week, but if they need more they won’t be deprived while the food bank is closed.
“We’ve made arrangements with another food bank in the West Island, WIM (West Island Mission), that if we have clients who are in desperate need that they can help us out by taking care of them.”
Pierrefonds-Roxboro mayor Jim Beis said he was worried by the non-profit’s closure, but when West Island Mission stepped up to help, those feelings eased.
“As a mayor its really encouraging to see this in the community when organizations help each other to provide the same services to really the same folks who are in need, day in and day out,” said Beis.
He also reminded residents that even though these organizations have a strong internal network, they also need their continued support long after the holiday season.
“It’s throughout the year as well that these groups continue to serve the 2 and 3 and 400 families a week in many cases.”
Hundreds of families have relied on food banks during the pandemic. Reid says On Rock went from serving 210-220 families a week to 300 in the past few months, and a new type of clientele.
“A lot of people who say they never envisioned themselves coming to a food bank but here they are now, because of the pandemic.”
Reid said he and his staff are looking forward to completing their quarantine so they can serve the community once again.