When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many community organizations and programs had to quickly adapt to support their communities while adhering to public health measures. Three such programs in Ottawa – St. Luke’s Table, the Well, and Centre 454 – quickly banded together to find ways to continue serving their community, despite the challenges.
With public health measures in place, gathering was no longer possible, and many community members were left without access to essential services like laundry facilities, showers, and a safe place to enjoy a warm meal or coffee. However, the staff and volunteers of these three programs were determined to find a way to continue providing these services to their community.
Working together, they made meals to deliver to isolated residents, and as public health measures eased, they were able to open their doors once again to allow access to washrooms, showers, and laundry. They also found creative ways to stay connected, including securing pre-paid cell phones to distribute throughout the community.
As the pandemic continued, the staff and volunteers of St. Luke’s Table, the Well, and Centre 454 realized that they had learned many lessons from working together so closely. They asked themselves why they couldn’t continue to work together as one organization rather than as three separate programs.
And so, Belong Ottawa was born. This new organization recognizes and supports the staff, volunteers, and participants of each of the three day programs while carrying out administration more effectively and efficiently under the one umbrella of Belong Ottawa.
The pandemic has been a challenging time for many, but the staff and volunteers of St. Luke’s Table, the Well, and Centre 454, have shown that it is possible to adapt and find new ways to support their community. Belong Ottawa is a testament to the power of working together to make a difference.