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Neighbourhood Network launches creative ways of lending a hand

March 26, 2020   ·   0 Comments

If you’re looking for ways to lend a hand to vulnerable members of the community who may be in need at this difficult time, Neighbourhood Network has developed some creative ideas on how you can help while still maintaining social distancing.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began to take a foothold in York Region, Neighbourhood Network, the Aurora-based organization connecting volunteers with organizations within the community, has been working with their roster of key community partners to identify the community’s most urgent needs at this difficult time.

“We are mindful of the role we all must play in flattening the curve and implementing social distancing, but there are still many things we can do to help make a difference and safely provide support to those in need,” says Neighbourhood Network’s Erin Cerenzia.

Neighbourhood Network’s aim is now to “spread joy, not germs” and the first way you can do that is to flex your artistic muscles.

  • Draw Pictures for Seniors – Seniors alone in their homes and retirement residences are suffering from extreme loneliness as a result of social isolation. Draw a picture or create some homemade artwork to send to a senior in need. When your masterpiece is complete, snap a photo or scan it and email it to

“We’re very fortunate that throughout the year we have a great relationship with seniors and retirement residences in our communities,” says Ms. Cerenzia, noting that these relationships have helped Neighbourhood Network forge a strong base of contacts. “We’re able to reach out and connect and, from there, we identified key points of contact and determined that being really mindful of not wanting to spread germs, the best way you can engage with these seniors is to create something. [The contacts] will then print off the artwork and distribute it internally, so we’re minimizing the number of germs being spread around.

  • Call a Senior – For those in isolation, a phone call can go a long way! Call 1-877-452-4287 to volunteer for CHATS – Community & Home Assistance to Seniors’ Telephone Reassurance Program.
  • Delivery Groceries and Medicine – Volunteers who are able to deliver groceries and medicine to seniors and other high risk individuals in our communities are encouraged to connect with CHATS at the number above or Routes Connecting Communities at 905-722-4616 or

“This is where we really rely on our community partners,” says Ms. Cerenzia. “We can’t speak highly enough about CHATS or Routes Connecting Communities. They are already well-equipped and these are programs where they are driving and dropping off food, medicine, taking seniors to appointments – it was really about connecting with those agencies and making sure we had all the best points of contact [to] direct the community to these existing programs and services.

  • Donate Goods & Funds – Charities and non-profits in our communities are also on the frontlines providing important services to those in need and at risk in our communities. Neighbourhood Network’s website ( is maintaining a list of urgently-needed donations on a daily basis.
  • Donate Blood – There is an extreme blood donor shortage at this time. It is safe to donate blood during the COVID-19 crisis and critical to the care of patients. (Visit for ways you can give in your community)

In addition, Neighbourhood Network is also mindful of the stress this crisis is having on local business and encourages people in the community to go to their website to learn creative ways to support local business at this time – including the purchasing of gift cards from local restaurants which can, in turn, be donated to organizations in need.

“The idea [for gift card donations] came to us through one of our partner organizations, Welcoming Arms, based here in Aurora, since we know how the restaurant industry has been impacted so harshly by this crisis. Why not, when you’re donating to local charities, purchase restaurant gift cards so you’re kind of meeting the need in two ways: you’re supporting local business and then the charity is also getting a donation.”


As you continue your social distancing in our attempt to “plank the curve”, consider sharing the ways you’re spreading joy over social media using the hashtag #spreadjoynotgerms and by tagging @neighbourhoodnetwork on Facebook and @NeighbourNetwrk on Twitter to spread community positivity.

“There are some great benefits that come from social distancing: spending time with your family, maybe you are in a household where you’re not able to be with your children all day, this is a great opportunity to connect with them,” says Ms. Cerenzia. “Through social media, we’re seeing lots of great videos. We really wanted to capture that kind of movement that we’re starting to see and make it a little bit more formal. Then hopefully by having a hashtag and by tagging Neighbourhood Network, we can share all these great posts. When you use the hashtag and tag Neighbourhood Network with all these things that are making you happy and joyful during this challenging time, we will share it on our social platforms as well and try to keep messages of positivity throughout the community.”

By Brock Weir



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