Chie Takano Reeves (Community Outreach Worker / Volunteer Coordinator)
As a result of the pandemic, we have been offering our programs via online formats while in-person programs have been paused since mid-March. Online service is to completely new to us, and it was very much challenging to learn and used to it to the point that we can provide sessions and teach our volunteers or potential participants how to use. To ensure cyber safety for our participants, we also developed and implemented various measures.
While the online delivery has the potential of being able to connect individuals in remote areas, it has its limitations such as technical difficulties (e.g. streaming delay) and accessibility barriers for individuals with no access to the Internet/device or issue with computer literacy. We’ve set our current goal and tried the best we could to achieve these goals – continuing to engage with community members and isolated individuals (due to higher risk of them contracting with COVID-19), and providing opportunities to socialize with each other. We all know that most human beings are social animals – even if it’s for health and safety to not see others in person, isolation can also harm your well-being.
The survey to our participants helped us to shape our direction and which programs to be offered. We currently offer following regular programs via Zoom in Japanese – Hot Lunch social, Craft Club online social, Senior Singing Club, and Single Mothers Support Group. If you are interested in attending any of those, please contact Chie (firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-385-9200).
Aside from our regular programs, we have also started a new initiative under this goal – e-learning sessions with Momiji Health Care Society. This collaboration enables us to reach out to those individuals in isolation. It’s so easy to find free online sessions in English but very little if any in Japanese. By using a user-friendly interface, bringing relevant and easy-to-understand information (e.g. health, food/cooking, law, art) to these target population, and teaching them how to install and use Zoom, we could achieve this. Since it launched, a solid number of senior citizens (aver. 40-70%) and individuals outside of GTA have attended. We’d like to keep offering this initiative but it needs your support – we are constantly seeking guest speakers who can share their specialty or whatever they like to do in their daily life. If you can help us or know someone who can, please contact us!
Lastly, I would like to give a huge thanks to our volunteers who have been tirelessly helping to coordinate these programs and who have been providing clerical and technical support to the JSS programs. Without their support, and with the very limited amount of time I have due to our financial difficulty, I could not have done this by myself.
I would like to mention one of our dedicated volunteers, late Ms. Michiko Adachi – an amazing volunteer who tirelessly helped our operations. We are deeply saddened by her passing on September 12. 2020. She was literally everyone’s right hand at JSS. She helped to issue our newsletters, maintain our website and database, trained other volunteers, and always enthusiastic to help our cause; but above all, she was a gentle and caring friend to us all. She will be watching over us with her gentle smile where the volunteers she handed her baton to, continue working for our cause. We miss her greatly.