Remax broker Jen Turcotte in her car

Re/Max Broker Jennifer Turcotte assembled a team of real estate workers to volunteer their time and deliver food to the local seniors. (Submitted photo)

Re/Max Broker heads volunteer team providing free grocery delivery to local seniors

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday July 9th, 2020

During the early days of COVID-19 as primal behaviours and fears rose to the surface, Fred Rogers famous quote,  “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” still rang true.

People continued to put others before themselves, going out of their way to help those who needed it. In Petawawa, some distinguished themselves as helpers.

Jennifer Turcotte is one of them.

After heeding the call at Hyska’s Your Independent Grocer (YIG), the Re/Max Pembroke Realty Ltd. Broker assembled a team of colleagues to deliver food to local seniors and ill residents for free.

“Why wouldn’t I do it?” said Turcotte. “People need a service and how can you say no to somebody who needed that service.”

By taking time out of their day and delivering groceries and goods, this group of real estate workers allowed vulnerable members of the community to eat without fear of contracting the virus.

It wasn’t a difficult task, Turcotte noted; it was fulfilling on a  personal level to connect with these people, and she established wonderful relationships with some of them.

“They were so appreciative of what we were doing, and it was calming for them,” she said.

Most of the seniors the team served were house bound, unable to meet friends and families outside their residences. So the volunteers acted as a bridge between them and what was going on in the outside world, a lifeline for many.

This isn’t the first time that Turcotte has done her part to make the community better. Born in Petawawa, she has been involved in multiple local committees and groups over the years.

“If we don’t (volunteer), then what type of community do we have?” said Turcotte. “Petawawa is built on the spirit of volunteers, and it’s so true.”

Yet even with all her experience as a volunteer, she wasn’t expecting just how rewarding this was going to be.

“It took away their worry about how they were going to get that basic need, how they were going to get that food,” said Turcotte.

The worry was real.

At the start of the pandemic in mid-March, things were chaotic. Toilet paper and sanitation products were impossible to find. Shelves were bare. Everyday household necessities were scarce and in demand.

Fears of food scarcity swirled amid that of catching a potentially lethal virus.

Turcotte and her team put many a mind to rest.

“It made me re-realize that I should take a moment because we are all human and we all have our basic needs, and one kind word can go a long way,” said Turcotte, adding kindness never goes out of fashion.

That kindness translated to her fellow real estate agents and brokers. The natural competitiveness between Realtors faded away, and they connected, building deeper relationships with each other during this project.

“In business, you are very competitive but when you stop, you just see them in a different light,” said Turcotte, noting they were all committed every week to help.

Putting the seniors first was paramount, and Turcotte credits Hyska’s YIG owner Val Hyska for her efforts in keeping the community safe by creating this volunteer-driven delivery service.

Even though the team’s services are no longer required, part of her still longs to return.

“I would do this again in a heartbeat, an absolute heartbeat,” said Turcotte.