Because this is what community does
Par Sarah-Jean Mannette,
The Royal Canadian Air Force CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed in the Mediterranean on April 29, 2020 has immeasurably impacted the military community and our country. Since news of the incident, the Halifax & Region Military Family Resource Centre (H&R MFRC) has been so warmly inundated with messages of kindness, shared sorrow, prayers, and offerings to help.
Because this is what community does. This is what community is. Especially in times of tragedy, military members, families, friends, and even strangers join together to show their compassion and lend their support. During these times of COVID-19, however, joining together is hard. Dropping off a casserole or a loaf of freshly baked bread is not possible. Neither are hugs or conversations over a hot cup of tea at the kitchen table. Instead, we find alternative ways to show that we stand together; social distancing will not distance our connection with one another.
The H&R MFRC was approached by numerous military family members who wanted to do something for military members deployed in HMCS Fredericton, and their families at home. Staff at the H&R MFRC quickly put in place a plan to send care packages to all members onboard the ship. The purpose of the care packages is to send some kindness and treats from home, to remind the members of home and that they are not alone, that people are thinking of them.
On Friday, May 8, 2020, staff of the H&R MFRC and Windsor Park and Shearwater Children’s Centres got together (in accordance with social distancing precautions) and assembled the care packages. Contents included local products: chocolate bars from Peace by Chocolate, maple syrup treats from Acadian Maple Products, Nova Scotia tartan pins donated by the province, Canadian flags donated by Member of Parliament Darren Fisher, H&R MFRC pens, and coffee K-cups donated by one of the H&R MFRC’s dedicated supporters, Angus G. Foods (McDonald’s). Also included in these packages were thank you cards handwritten by H&R MFRC staff.
To help family members, as designated by the deployed member, they received $50 gift cards from The Kitchen Door. “It’s such a maritime thing to do, to drop off a home-cooked meal to a family as a comfort and say that we’re thinking of them,” Shelley Hopkins, executive director of the H&R MFRC explains. “These gift cards are a small way to show families that we’re here to support them.”
It was the generous support from TD that helped make all of this possible. During the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Health Week (May 4-10, 2020), TD donated $10,000 to the H&R MFRC in support of mental health initiatives for military families.
“The mental health and well-being of military families can be especially challenging to manage during these times,” says Hopkins. “It only seemed fitting to use TD’s donation to fund these care packages because this really is a mental health initiative.”
Members aboard HMCS Fredericton will receive these packages in the coming weeks and family members have already started receiving their gift cards. Comments on social media positively support this initiative and commend the service of military members and their families.
The H&R MFRC was stood up over 30 years ago to support the wellbeing of all those who share the unique experience of military life. The H&R MFRC is the only local charity that is dedicated to supporting military families in our community, which is from the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) all the way to Cape Breton, and everywhere in between. The Centre is so appreciative of the funding it receives from the Base and Wing, as well as from Military Family Services (MFS), it relies on support from businesses and individuals to fund programs and services exclusive for military families.
Although our Centres are currently closed, our professional staff remain dedicated to military families. There are a number of ways to connect with us so be sure to keep our contact information nearby:
Phone: 902-427-7788 (24/7)
A note on mental health & wellbeing support
Military families have access to a team of registered social workers who provide over-the-phone, confidential counselling at no cost. Families can seek support for a variety of reasons, such as: work-related separations, parenting challenges, relationship issues, separation and divorce, grief and loss, and family violence. For more information, please contact us: 902-427-7788.