Emergency medical staff pledge $35k to say ‘thank you’ to Lionhearts

A volunteer with Lionhearts Inc. helps distribute meals to those in need at Skeleton Park (McBurney Park), one of the four locations the Lionhearts distribute meals daily. Photo by Dominic Owens.

Members of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queen’s University and staff from the Emergency Medical department of Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) have pledged $35,000 of their personal funds to The Covid-19 Street Project, a local food relief program.

“We are incredibly grateful that the community has really rallied around frontline health care workers over the past few months, and has in many large and small ways made demonstrations of support and care for us that we’ve really, really appreciated,” said Dr. David Messenger, Head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queen’s University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre

“We realize that, despite the challenges of Covid-19 and the impact that that’s had on health care, we’re still a really privileged group of people in the community. We have jobs to go to, we have not necessarily had the economic impact that others have had, as the result of businesses closing, that type of thing,” he said.

“We wanted to find a tangible way to demonstrate our thanks and also our support for the community.”

The Covid-19 Street Project, offered by local charity Lionhearts Inc., offers take-home meals, grab-and-go snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, pastries, and hot chocolate, as well as a “listening ear” to people in need from four pick-up locations, according to their website. There are two locations in Kingston, one in Amherstview, and one in Napanee, Ont.

A volunteer with Lionhearts Inc. helps to serve up hot chocolate to those in need as part of their COVID-19 Street Project at Skeleton Park. Photo by Dominic Owens.

“We think that is vital work and clearly there is a strong need,” Dr. Messenger said. “Access to other sorts of community support have been restricted or are more difficult in the last few months. They’ve really filled a big gap and are doing tremendous work.”

He described Lionhearts Inc. as an efficient group of people “who operate, really, on a shoestring. They have very low administrative costs. The vast majority of funding goes directly towards the food,” he said.

“We were also really impressed by how they adapted their model over the last few months, and started actually serving meals nightly.”

Dr. Messenger said Lionhearts distributes over 700 meals a day from their four distribution sites.

“The population that they’re supporting very much reflects the population that we see in the emergency department and we wanted to work together with them to enable their work to continue, and support that community and that work as a thank you,” he said.

The $35,000 dollar pledge will match donations from the Kingston area until the end of June. The Springer Group of Properties has already matched the pledge with an additional $35,000. Dr. Messenger said the goal is to now raise a full $140,000 with the support of the Kingston community.

More information on the Covid-19 Street Project, including how to donate or access services, can be found here. https://lionhearts.ca/covid-19-street-project/

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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