The Firehall is closed. Our March Break camps were cancelled, as well as the remainder of our Winter Session Programs. And with the extension of the closure of all of the City’s recreation centres until at least June 30th, we have now also had to cancel our Spring programs. But as we are sure you know, OSCA’s staff have been as busy as ever these past few weeks.
Sure, the first couple of weeks were hectic for us, like they were for everyone. With the support of the Executive Committee and the Board, staff started preparing for the inevitable closure of the Firehall several days before we were forced to shut down, so in some ways, we managed to get a bit of a head-start. But despite this head-start, the first few weeks were dominated by ever-changing conditions, a whole host of new and unexpected logistical issues, and a huge list of administrative and operational tasks that needed to be taken care of.
Now that we, and everyone around us, have settled into a “new normal”, we have begun to reposition ourselves to continue to deliver the calibre of programming, advocacy, and community support that OSCA is known for. So we wanted to give you a bit of an update on what we have been up to lately.
For instance, much of the work by the programming staff has been quite visible. Several times a week we have been posting carefully curated resources for parents and guardians, containing activities for their kids to our website and social media channels. And we haven’t forgotten about the grownups either as we’ve also been posting regular “Adults Need Boredom Busters Too!” updates. Staff have also been creating lots of fun social media content, including songs, magic tricks, name-that-tune challenges, etc.
Last week we also turned our Spring Art Show - which is still up at the Firehall, invisible to us all - into a Virtual Spring Art Show showcasing a different piece every day on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
And have you checked out our COVID-19 portal recently? In addition to the many resources mentioned earlier, it also contains links to general resources, specific resources for seniors, and a comprehensive list of all businesses in Old Ottawa South and how they are coping during the pandemic.
Behind the scenes, the programming staff have been very busy as well. Did you know, for instance, that Darcy and Katherine have been hosting virtual Busy Bees and After-Four meetings? And that they checked in with over 60 of our clients (who we weren’t sure about whether we were successfully reaching them through our online content) to see how everyone is doing and whether anyone is in need of any assistance?
We can also let you in on a little secret: within the next few days, our brand new Virtual Spring Program guide will be launched, which will feature several virtual programs, classes, and meetups hosted by OSCA staff and/or our instructors. Stay tuned for that!
And there is a lot more invisible work that has been going on behind the scenes. Our administrative staff have been hard at work making sure clients receive their March Break Camp and/or Spring program refunds. In addition to paying our part-time staff and instructors for two weeks after we closed, we also worked hard to ensure the regular business of OSCA continued with payments to regular vendors and suppliers. While seemingly trivial, these tasks are actually quite complicated without access to the Firehall or the ability to meet in person.
In addition, you may recall that at the beginning of March, we announced that we will be switching our online registration system. The preparations for that have been ongoing, and if anything, we have been ramping them up. We are still committed to our original timelines and we have started holding regular meetings to discuss the transition. Within the next few days and weeks, we will begin the process of staff training and building our program database.
And leading us all through these uncharted waters and making sure we all remain even-keeled, is OSCA’s Executive Director, Christy Savage. She has been working incessantly behind the scenes - together with the Executive Committee, the Board, the many OSCA committees, OSCA staff, and volunteers - to make sure OSCA continues to be a true community association, even when our physical space is closed.
With May being OSCA’s AGM month, March and April are traditionally busy months with lots of AGM preparation work, including an audit. And even though the decision has been made to postpone the AGM until at least September, the audit still has to be completed.
In addition to the “normal” work that goes into the day-to-day running of OSCA, new challenges are now added onto the ED’s and staffs’ plates. We already mentioned above that we are planning to roll out some virtual programming within the next couple of weeks. One of the biggest tasks ahead is planning for programming and scheduling without knowing when, how, and in what form they might return.
A new challenge also includes exploring alternative revenue streams, and in the next few weeks and months, Christy and her team will be looking into several sources for grants and sources of alternative revenues, making sure OSCA can remain financially healthy while going through an extended period with reduced revenue.
All of this is to say we have been hard at work, and we are delighted we can be. We are healthy and well, and we are excited to seize new opportunities to continue to serve and enjoy our amazing community both now and well into the future!
Christy, Darcy, Erik, Katherine, Luke, Matt, and Sarah