In a time of extreme social and physical distancing, the Rotary Club of Brandon is helping local care home residents connect with the people they love the most.


In a time of extreme social and physical distancing, the Rotary Club of Brandon is helping local care home residents connect with the people they love the most.

Members of the Rotary Club of Brandon #1334 have worked hard to continue serving their community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One way they have done so is by donating iPads to long-term care homes to allow residents to have video calls with friends and family.

Since April, the Rotary Club of Brandon has provided iPads to six long-term care facilities in the Westman area: Rideau Park, Fairview, Hillcrest, Dinsdale and Valleyview personal care homes in Brandon and the Sherwood personal care home in Virden.

Because the pandemic forced some Rotary Club fundraisers to be postponed, like the annual book sale, Partrick said the club soon began exploring other ways to give back to the community.

“Our club decided to allot an amount of money to deal with COVID- related issues or impacts in our community and try and direct some of those approved funds we have into various projects that would engage or facilitate help to people that are struggling, as we all are struggling, with the COVID-19 impact,” said Don Partrick, public relations chair for the Rotary Club of Brandon.

The club’s grant committee was tasked with finding appropriate ways to use the funding allocated for COVID- 19 relief projects. Eventually, they settled on two different initiatives: helping the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Committee manufacture face shields and donating iPads to care homes.

Partrick said that the idea for the iPads first came to mind because a member of the grant committee has a mother who lives in a long-term care home.

While everyone has been impacted by distancing measures, Partrick said that older adults in care homes are particularly impacted by isolation.

“In the seniors’ homes, where people are at a very high degree of vulnerability ... (it’s) even more important that all the things that we’re being told to do, they absolutely have to do,” Partrick said. “Of course, that means total isolation and total disconnect from their loved ones, their families, their grandchildren ... the only things that they really strive (for) and are focused on because they really live relatively cloistered lives.”

The grant committee set up a process for interested care homes to apply to receive an iPad through the Rotary Club’s initiative. So far, six care homes have received donated iPads.

Partrick noted that as a special touch, each donated iPad was customized with an etching of the Rotary Club of Brandon’s logo.

Partrick said that approximately 75 per cent of the allocated funding has been used, but that the Rotary Club is still looking to assist other care homes with what remains.

“I would say that we’re looking at other opportunities. At this point in time, there haven’t been any, any specific sites identified and specified … but we do have a little bit of our funding left that we had originally approved,” Partrick said. “We’re still looking for similar-type projects related to COVID-19 challenges in the Westman area.”

Ultimately, the goal of Rotary Club members is to serve others in any way that they can, Partrick said.

“Rotary or service organizations are all about giving back into the community and raising funds, but (also) taking those funds and using them to make the community a better place to live and to function.”