As Montreal braces for a prolonged COVID-19 shutdown — complete with physical distancing — neighbours are finding creative ways to pitch in.
From free emergency food baskets to wellness check-ins, the Concordia community has quickly mobilized to provide aid and inspire hope. In fact, one intrepid alum started a scaled-down movement in her own backyard.
“My mom lived in a residence before she passed away and I saw that isolation is a huge demoralizer,” says Grace Sebeh Byrne, BA 86.
This experience inspired her to start the Coronation Block Assistance Group in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
“I just couldn’t help but think about the elderly people on our block. We have seven houses with elderly people who are, for the most part, alone. That just really, really tugged at my heart and I was really worried for them.”
As the co-founder and executive director of Yellow Pad Sessions, an arts and culture non-profit, Sebeh Byrne has seen a decline in her work since the coronavirus prompted shelter-in-place orders across Quebec and Canada. So she used her spare time to draw up pamphlets announcing the Coronation Block Assistance Group’s services and distributed them to every home on her block.
“Nine people reached out and everybody gave me — by email — a list of everything they could offer, like shopping, cooking, driving, that sort of thing,” she says.