This is the story of how the Fall Semester got off the ground. Covid-19 came to town - UNINVITED and ended our Winter 2019 semester abruptly. By the time we had our end of semester board meeting in May via Zoom, the faces and thoughts were glum. It was looking pretty dismal for any kind of activity come the fall. Ah! But summer makes all the difference. Hot summer days along the river with a few glasses of sangria and all of a sudden things aren't looking so bad. By August Mike Libbos, the new Activities Director, had ideas. First the leaders were approached. Would they be interested? Overwhelmingly YES! How to register? We have the technology - phone and email. BUT Wall Street United Church would still be out of bounds. There must be a venue somewhere in Brockville...the hunt was on. By the 3rd week of August we were touring the Youth Arena, Brockville Shopping Centre and empty store locations on King Street and 108 Perth Street. Needless to say, the Perth Street site was the most suitable. Mike was on the job to get a lease signed, sealed and delivered - not an easy task. The landlord was on vacation and is located in Kingston.
With limited space new schedules needed to be put in place (who knew how much space we took up at Wall Street every day?). Mike Libbos, did a great job of scheduling over 30 classes / 3 venues (including the Strowger Courts for Pickleball).
Next came health and safety. Gael Bullard offered her services as the lead interface with the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Health Unit. Together with Carmen, they outlined a proposal for The Salvation Army, so they would let us back and give us more time and space. Then the proposal needed to be put into place for the Perth Street Site. The virus situation is evolving and so are our Health and Safety Rules. As we move forward we are continually evaluating the situation and trying to keep everyone safe.
The time-line for events was then put in motion. Registration by phone on Sept. 15 and classes to begin on Sept. 21. We now had less than 3 weeks to D-Day. Many of the larger class leaders started emailing and calling their regular students to see if they wanted to sign up. This freed up phone time for new members to call on registration day.
Finally we had access to Perth Street and boy did it need some work. The entire building needed to be cleaned including the outside window. A family was approached to take on the job and then to clean the site every evening as well. Isn't it wonderful that we are also able to help out a family during this time? Our village is growing!
Next came jobs for many hands. Like raising a child, this effort also took a village. We have a community, that when called upon rose to the need. Many leaders and board members volunteered to "Get it Done". These people deserve special mention for their "beyond the call of duty" efforts:
Tony Dunbar and Xoi Hin were instrumental is keeping the membership informed by updating the website continuously. With this very fluid situation with government protocols and changing statuses I especially appreciated their quick response and technical know-how.
Gael Bullard as our liaison with the Health Unit to ensure our safe return. She also donated all the sanitation kits for all the sites. And just to go that one step further, she also sewed masks to include in the kits; in case any member shows up without one.
Debby Greffe and Marian Rafferty papered the windows and added our name and address so that our new location at Perth Street would be easily seen.
Bill McNelly and Lisa St. Pierre also gave us a hand with driving to Kingston to pick up chairs, painting parking lot lines and signage . Yes, Leaders now have designated parking!
Mike Libbos, with help from Bob Phillips did a lot of the maintenance duties. How many guys does it take to screw in a few fluorescent lights and ballasts - two. Bob also cleaned up the back emergency exit area of weeds and is building a step so a parachute isn't required to leave through that door. Mike also had the least favourite job of fixing the leaky toilet.
We also had a crew helping Mike to move chairs and tables from WSUC to Perth Street - they were Mark Bailey, Wayne Bullard, Ian Coombe, Gord Eamer, Jamey McTavish and again Bill McNelly. And a big thank you to Wall Street United Church for lending us this furniture.
On behalf of the board and all the participants, we would like to thank you all for your dedication. If you see any of these people when you are around, please take a moment to thank them for their hard work in getting this new location operational.
As I write this, we are closing in on the first week. Was it perfect? No. Are we on the right track? I think so. The purpose of all this is to enact our mandate to the best of our ability which is to enhance the lives of Brockville and area residents 50 years old and over, by providing, in a friendly and welcoming environment, affordable programs and activities that will keep them mentally and physically active.