An organization that provides much-needed childcare support to mothers with cancer across the Greater Toronto Area is being impacted by COVID-19.
It’s been a challenging time for Valerie Janshon, who recently underwent a partial mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
On top of dealing with her own health concerns, the single mother has to take care of her seven-year-old son, who has special needs and is non-verbal.
“It’s overwhelming,” Janshon said.
“I feel like to go back home because at home at least you have support.”
Most of Janshon’s family and friends are in Niger, Africa. Between medical appointments and taking care of her son, it can get tough, which is why many like her turn to the Nanny Angel Network, a charitable organization that provides free childcare support through volunteering to families in need.
Dianna Harrison, a volunteer with the organization, says before the pandemic began, she would visit the Janshon’s a few times a week and look after Valerie’s son so that she could get some rest.
“We went out to see a movie one afternoon and it kind of just gave her a couple of hours off, where she could have some down time, some ‘me’ time,” Harrison said.
Over the last four months, Harrison has developed a close bond with the family.
“It’s tough for to have people to even speak about what’s going on with her emotionally and physically,” she said.
“I think having another woman in the house for her to discuss those things.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed how volunteers and families can interact, adding to the stress.
“A big challenge for these moms is that they’re sick,” Audrey Guth, Founder of NAN said.
“They now have their children at home and they have to home-school them, and it’s overwhelming for them.”
The organization is providing virtual services to families, including virtual visits from volunteers.
“We are now mailing out what are called coping kits, which are activities for the kids to talk about their feelings that the families or volunteers can do during their virtual visits,” Guth said.
Nanny Angel Network is also helping mothers by partnering with restaurant The Rampant Chef to provide free meals to families in Durham each week.
Despite these initiatives, the organization is still calling for more volunteers as the number of families in need of services, especially in Durham region, continue to rise amid the pandemic.
You can sign up to be a volunteer with the Nanny Angel Network here.
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