by Gerry Luciano, Manager, Fundraising and Communications | Published 5/08/2020
Like many other social service agencies in Toronto, Abrigo Centre is eagerly anticipating the reopening of our agency to seeing clients in person. Although our doors closed in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, every day we currently serve our clients virtually over the phone or by email.
Abrigo is closely following guidelines and recommendations set by the provincial government and City of Toronto in preparation for a safe reopening. It’s imperative that we stress the word “safe” because although we assist 6,500 people each year, the health, wellbeing and safety of our staff members, clients and volunteers has always been Abrigo’s primary concern.
PPE is a Priority
In preparation of our reopening, over the last month Abrigo has been busy securing a supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the unsung heroes of Abrigo, our frontline staff members. Their work is invaluable and their safety, as well as our clients and volunteers, is paramount. Budgeting for something like PPE was unimaginable for an agency like ours less than a year ago.
After a recent call out for financial and product donations to build our stockpile of PPE, the generosity of our community shone through. Your support became the driving force behind our quest for much needed supplies. We thank all our cash donors, groups like Canada Sews for the donation of masks and the incredible generosity of our friends at LiUNA Local 183. At every turn, Local 183 provides unparalleled support to Abrigo without hesitation. Thank you!
Planning the Reopening
As a public agency, Abrigo must abide by all provincial and City of Toronto health directives and policies. With our doors shuttered, Abrigo had the opportunity to develop detailed reopening protocols to support the safety, health, and wellbeing of everyone associated with our agency.
Following the province and city’s lead, Abrigo will also implement a phased-in approach to our reopening. The timing of our reopening is not exact just yet given the nature of the virus and the constantly changing protocols. Right now, it may look something like this:
Phase 1: Employees return for a one or two week period, but the office remains closed to clients and volunteers. (Tentative timeframe: late August/early September)
Phase 2: Offices reopen to the public for “by appointment only” meetings with clients and a few select volunteers return. (Tentative timeframe: mid-September)
Phase 3: Start of group programs and return to providing general services including client walk-ins. (Tentative timeframe: still to be determined)
What to Expect at Abrigo
During each re-opening phase or until the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto concludes COVID-19 is no longer identified as a public health threat, Abrigo will enforce the following general prevention and physical distancing practices. (Please note that given the nature of the COVID-19 virus, dates and protocols can change at any time.)
Strategies to Keep You Safe
1 – Abrigo staffing will be approximately 50 per cent in the office and 50 per cent working from home. This reduced presence on-site will ensure that we keep the number of individuals in the office to a safe level.
2 – All staff, clients and volunteers will be required to wear a mask or facial covering at all times and Abrigo can refuse service to those who do not comply.
3 – All clients will undergo a screening process at the front door conducted by an Abrigo volunteer or staff member.
4 – Every staff member, client, volunteer or visitor that enters the building must register at the reception desk to ensure that contact tracing information is available if necessary.
5 – Abrigo staff, clients and volunteers will practice physical distancing (staying six feet apart) whenever possible.
Those are just a few of the critical items in a much larger framework for our reopening. Abrigo is looking forward to the day when we can safely reopen and return to serving clients face-to-face.
If you would like to ensure that Abrigo’s programs and services continue to function at the highest level or to help us purchase additional PPE, please visit our website at www.abrigo.ca and click on the CanadaHelps logo. It’s a safe and secure way to give back to your community and help the most vulnerable segment of our population. Thank you for your support!
About DISCOVER Connection:
The main objectives of Conexão DISCOVER are to connect, integrate and support the Portuguese-speaking community during and after the pandemic in Canada. Read more at https://www.magazinediscover.com/2020/05/conexao-discover/