Summary of L’Abri En Ville’s 2020 Annual Report
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a period of enormous change and uncertainty for many, and L’Abri was no exception. To carry out our mission of support and inclusiveness to those living with mental illness, our challenge was to fulfill this commitment while keeping our community safe. To this end, a Covid-19 task force was formed with the goal to review developments concerning the virus and keep abreast of public health and safety measures. This was achieved by modifying services to facilitate virtual meetings for residents and volunteers, which involved equipping apartments with iPads and providing digital literacy training resources.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community, which helped us rise to the challenge. Our annual citrus fundraiser was cancelled for the first time since 1998, but anticipated loss of revenue was offset by donations thanks to the generosity of our funders. Some foundations made their donations earlier than usual in the year, others increased their grants. We were also the recipients of generosity from other sources. Shift8Web donated their skills to redesign our website. Our IT provider, Andrew Martin-Hugessen, volunteered his time and expertise to help source and configure the iPads for the apartments – making it possible for residents to communicate virtually with staff and members of their support system. The Physical and Occupational students, with help from the residents, co-authored a user manual for iPads. These were distributed to all apartments, sister organizations and community partners. Our introduction to Zoom was a steep learning curve for all involved but once mastered helped us keep contact and collaboration alive. We successfully held our AGM in June via Zoom.
Social distancing forced rethinking of our regular activities schedule. Most were cancelled and replaced by monthly book clubs, one in French and one in English. The traditional summer getaway to Ile St. Bernard was replaced by two one-day trips for apple picking, and the residents were treated to a Thanksgiving festive meal prepared by Giovanni Monti from his café in the Queen Elizabeth Health Complex. As in-person get togethers were cancelled, the volunteers and coordinators found new ways to keep connected. Weekly meetings between the residents and coordinators were conducted either by phone or Zoom and volunteers kept in touch through friendly phone calls. We also reached out to our sister organizations at this time to share our experiences, as we adjusted our services in light of Covid-19.
We had one apartment vacancy by year end. As so much time was spent at home, professional cleaners were hired to freshen up the apartments and support the upkeep of their living spaces. All residents remain COVID free.