Bob Crozier (from left) and Donavan Matt of Turning Points Collaborative Society and Alison Hayman and Kristy Hennings of the Vernon library branch show case three new computers donated by the library to the temporary shelter in the Vernon Curling Club on April 20, 2020, to keep clients connect amid COVID-19. (Turning Points Collaborative Society)

COVID-19: Vernon library keeps shelter occupants connected

Turning Points Collaborative Society received three computers to be used at temporary shelter in curling club

The Vernon library has donated some tech to keep those experiencing homelessness connected with friends, family and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Okanagan Regional Library’s Vernon branch kindly donated three computers to Turning Points Collaborative Society to be used in the temporary, amalgamated shelter at the curling club.

“We are incredibly grateful to the library for this donation,” Turning Points’ executive director Randene Wejr said April 20. “These computers will provide a valuable resource for our clients who are self-isolating.”

The Vernon Library and Turning Points have a history of partnering on community initiatives.

“One of the library’s most important roles is as a safe space for everyone in the community to gather, learn and connect,” Vernon library branch head Kristy Hennings said.

“With this current crisis we are no longer able to support our community as a physical place or with access to the internet,” she said. “This leaves a huge gap in service for many people and we are happy to share our extra resources with Turning Points to ease some of that disconnection.”

The temporary shelter at the curling club amalgamated Our Place and Gateway Shelter. It was established April 7 in response to the novel coronavirus.

The curling club allows for those utilizing Vernon’s shelters to have more space to adhere to social distancing rules established by British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The curling club now houses 70 beds, each sectioned off into a 10-by-10 area to maximize distancing. Additional sanitization and portable hand-washing stations have been added to the facility and all staff have been equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment, including masks and scrubs.

The larger site also allows for more staff to be on shift while reducing the need for staff to travel from site to site.

“This plan is designed to keep the virus from being transmitted from employee to resident, employee to employee and from resident to employee,” Wejr said April 7. “This is designed to keep all of us safe and healthy.”

Turning Points said it has received a lot of community support throughout the pandemic — from the seamstresses who made and donated cotton masks for both staff and clients to local businesses who provided bedding, TVs and playing cards.

“We are really fortunate to have such a caring and compassionate community,” Wejr said. “Together, through these partnerships, we are making Vernon a safer and healthier place for everyone.”

“Thank you.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Vernon homeless shelters combine in curling club

READ MORE: Thefts from mailboxes spike in North Okanagan: RCMP


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