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Community Builders: Linda Cruz prioritizes mental health support during the pandemic

By United Way East Ontario on September 11, 2020

In August, United Way East Ontario announced eight new Community Builder Award recipients being honoured for their unwavering support to their communities in these challenging times. Check out the full list of recipients here and read on to learn about recent recipient Linda Cruz.

COVID-19 has been difficult for many, especially those struggling with their mental health. That’s why services such as the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region are so crucial to the community. But none of that would be possible if it were not for dedicated volunteers like Linda Cruz.

Linda Cruz, Community Builder Award recipient. Photo: United Way East Ontario.

Since the start of COVID-19, the need for mental health services and support has grown. One in five Canadians will be affected by a mental health crisis at some point in their lives and those numbers have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, making crisis lines and system navigation services more important now than ever. Many online platforms have been encouraging community members to reach out to the Distress Centre if they are struggling to cope.

In response to the escalated need during the pandemic, Linda has increased her involvement with the Distress Centre. Linda felt a responsibility to step up for her community — recognizing that some of the regular volunteers wouldn’t be able to take shifts because of family obligations, health concerns, or other circumstances.

Linda says the Distress Centre’s work is now more important than ever as they field increased calls from front-line workers and people who are struggling with isolation.

As a volunteering veteran with over 10 years of volunteering experience under her belt, Linda is a leader within her team at the centre and is responsible for answering direct calls. As the Distress Centre has adapted to accommodate volunteers now supporting their community safely from home, Linda shows her dedication to people in Ottawa by ensuring this volunteer-driven service remained available to answer calls.

The work of the Distress Centre is crucial to our community, as we grapple with the lasting effects of COVID-19. Thanks to volunteers like Linda, people across our region are feeling secure and safe, knowing where they can turn when they need resources, support, or just a kind and friendly voice to listen.