Blacksheep Comedy, along with Portage are hosting a comedy night on Thursday July 9th, 2020 to help bring awareness to the Bunker House Project and to raise money for the youth in Ontario who need our help. This amazing show, featuring Kate Davis, Ernie Vicente, Michael Moses and Al Val, is a donate what you can event.
Why are funds so desperately needed?
When the province first declared an emergency and issued safety directives to essential services, Portage had to act swiftly to ensure the health and well-being of current residents and staff, which unfortunately entailed the suspension of some core activities; visits by families to the Centre to meet their loved ones and participate in therapy, allowing new admissions to the Centre and providing face to face aftercare therapy sessions in the communities that our residents return to. Operating under social distancing guidelines, and unable to help struggling young people and their families who called upon Portage for help was a difficult experience for them. However, it also motivated them to adapt and evolve – to search for safe and meaningful solutions expeditiously.
First, Portage residents and employees were thoroughly informed on basic hygiene measures. The nurse spoke to the residents, many of them boys and girls just 14 or 15 years of age, explaining what was going on, why they couldn’t see their families anymore and how to stay safe from the virus; calming their anxious young minds. Hand sanitizer dispensers were placed strategically throughout the Centre. All employees began to have their temperature taken every day upon arrival at work and have to complete a health questionnaire before being allowed contact with residents.
Secondly, with some changes to the IT infrastructure, Portage reestablished that vital link between residents and their families through video conferencing.
Third, Portage acquired standalone mobile bunker houses set up at a safe distance from the main resident community to accommodate new admissions of residents. Specific staff members were trained and exclusively assigned to this special admissions process. A nurse monitors the health of the new admissions every day and they are integrated with the rest of the residential community after remaining symptom and a negative COVID-19 test result is returned from Public Health. And even though they are physically apart for the first 9 days, the new admissions take part in everyday activities and group therapy with the rest of the community through videoconferencing.
Fourth, Portage ensured residents had access to and were fully engaged in their online schooling through the Upper Grand District School Board – keeping them focused on a plan on how to pursue post-secondary education after Portage.
Fifthly, Portage resumed face to face aftercare therapy sessions that are so vital in ensuring a healthy lifestyle and abstinence once a resident leaves the Centre. Residents now participate in these through a special Zoom video conferencing facility (not dissimilar to the one used by Canadian Health Care Professionals) from the safety of their home. There’s greater-than-before participation of parents in these sessions!
Of all these actions, the arrival of the bunker houses at the Centre caused most excitement among our residents; and it all affectionately got dubbed as “The Bunker House Project”
Lastly, Portage readied isolation facilities onsite in the event of a suspected outbreak at the Centre. Clinical staff in sister Portage facilities were put on standby to arrive within hours, a day at most, if they ever need help.
It goes without saying that all of these adjustments come at a cost. Portage has had to make a number of difficult budget decisions in order to accommodate these measures.Unfortunately these decisions put some of their plans at future risk unless they can recover them between now and then.
To learn more, please visit www.bunkerhouseproject.ca or please feel free to reach out to Ashley-Ann Maginnis, Manager of Development with any questions you may have.
Get your tickets today by donating what you can. If you cannot attend but would still like to support this amazing cause, please click Tickets and then select Donation – Cannot Attend.