It was the second week of March in 2020 when Velle Huscroft Weitman had made plans to take her kids skiing down in the United States for spring break.
But like most spring break plans last year, Weitman too had to scrap her family outing due to the emergence of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
With spring break torpedoed and vacation plans swapped with lockdown measures, Weitman said that she felt the need to do some good in town and help others navigate uncharted waters.
“I saw this need — people were needing things and they had nobody to call,” she said. “I felt that there was a lot of hysteria, especially for seniors, and not a lot of action. I thought that I could step up, I can do this.”
She would end up joining the Creston COVID Support group — which was created by Tracy McKee that same month — as one of the group’s administrators and the head phone dispatch operator.
“There were all these people who needed groceries — they were quarantining, coming back from the States,” said Weitman. “We had an insurmountable amount of people coming, like Snowbirds coming from the States not sure what to do.”
In addition to Snowbirds and people quarantining, Weitman said that dispatch was caring for a number of residents at Crest View Village.
“(Crest View) didn’t have a plan in place for residents to get groceries,” she said.
Before the Town of Creston offered a dispatch line that the group could use to fulfill services, Weitman was using her home landline to operate the 24/7 dispatch line. There are five other dispatch operators in rotation, and in the springtime, she said that dispatch would receive anywhere from two to 100 calls per week.
“I would get a phone call and then I would go to a list of volunteers, and then dispatch volunteers to go out and shop or pick up these necessary items people needed,” she said.
Around 100 locals came on board and volunteered their help as the pandemic ensued.
Services provided by the group are free and confidential. They include grocery shopping, grocery pickup and delivery, medicine pickup, mental health phone support, agency referrals, emergency funding, personal protective equipment (PPE) and pet food and general supplies.
“It’s all local people helping out. We are actually rather slow right now, so it seems like people’s needs have been met,” said Weitman.
She added that the dispatch line now averages one phone call per week, but requests are still monitored 24 hours a day. There are still 75 to 100 volunteers ready to help, she noted.
“Leave a message and someone will call you back right away,” she said.
Anyone needing services from the group can contact them by calling 250-428-8651, or emailing email@example.com. You can also find the group on Facebook by searching Creston COVID Support.
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