(Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Petawawa Military Family Resource
Centre welcoming new arrivals virtually
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday July 9th, 2020
To address the challenges that come with moving to a new community during a global pandemic, the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre (PMFRC) continues to offer its resources remotely.
When people move to the area, their first point of contact at the PMFRC is typically Consuela Proulx, Information Services Coordinator.
“As members and their families are moving to the province or within Ontario, it is very important that they have access to information and that they have it at their fingertips,” said Proulx.
She may no longer be able to give new families a hearty in-person welcome, but she is still there to help answer any questions by phone and online.
In addition to this, she and her team have created a welcome package; within it can be found maps of the area, including one of Garrison Petawawa, information on the PMFRC app, as well as contact numbers, local resources and detailed descriptions of the bilingual programs offered throughout the year.
While the welcome package is full of useful information, there is also the option to explore the area once a new family’s feet are on the ground.
The “Discover Petawawa BINGO” game allows newcomers, and long time residents, to familiarize themselves with the area.
Participants must go on the CAFconnection webpage and download the bingo card. Then instead of the traditional number and letter combo, they use clues to score a BINGO. Once at least one line is complete, the participants should take a photo of it and send it in for the chance to win fabulous prizes.
“It is a great way to get some fresh air while walking the dog or out with your kids but it is also something that you can do with an entire family or by yourself,” said Angèle Scullion, South Side Community Centre Receptionist.
The game is just one example of the fun activities the PMFRC is still doing at this time.
When not socially restricted by a worldwide pandemic, the area also offers a wide variety of activities and fun programs for all ages. These are often held in conjunction with Garrison Petawawa Personnel Support Programs (PSP). When not limited by COVID-19 regulations, PSP offers countless activities, facilities and clubs for families to enjoy, which are often hosted at Dundonald Hall or the Recreation Complex, both located on Festubert Boulevard.
Newcomers are encouraged to get the PSP Plan, which was formally known as the Community Access Card membership, once the facilities are open to the public.
But moving to a new area isn’t all fun and games. There is a lot of paperwork to complete, especially when moving from one province to another.
Service Ontario is the place to go for things like address changes, car registrations, and health card renewals. Their hours have been altered due to COVID-19, but they are still meeting people’s needs.
They do not accept walk-ins in Petawawa; appointments must be made in advance by calling 613-687-7661. Many of these services can also be completed online. There is a dedicated phone number for Military families to help with those specific issues: 1-888-333-8545.
It can be a little daunting to reach out when in a new area, but the PMFRC urges people to do so.
“We would rather have you call us and ask a question than you not get the support,” said Julie Holliger, PMFRC Program Manager, adding their goal is to help people make the transition to the community as seamlessly as possible.
Finding childcare, however, remains one of the most challenging aspects of moving to a new area.
Though some childcare centres are now allowed to be open with many restrictions in place, the PMFRC isn’t quite ready for full-time regular business.
There is a lot of administration to be done before they can reopen, and staff is hard at work training, sanitizing and putting everything in place to ensure that all children and staff are safe.
It is a process undertaken with care, and keeping everyone healthy is their number one priority.
“It is really worth the effort,” said Holliger.
The situation is evolving every day, and the staff is anxiously awaiting the chance to welcome children back to the PMFRC.
More information on the childcare situation will be released on the PMFRC’s Facebook page as soon as possible - more information can be found at www.cafconnection.ca/Petawawa/Contact-Us/Petawawa-Military-Family-Resource-Centre.aspx.