An interview with Chrissy and Ally of Allow Us… Senior Services.
This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Chrissy: she/her, Ally: she/her
Describe your business.
We are co-owners of Allow Us…Senior Services. We offer personalized transportation/errand and shopping services for seniors living in Belleville, Quinte West, Brighton and surrounding areas.
With lifelong careers as human service workers, specializing in senior care and people with physical disadvantages, we decided we wanted to start our own business offering services specifically geared to local seniors. Our hope is to provide an opportunity for seniors to remain independent, feel needed/necessary, and to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible.
The idea came from noticing how independent our own parents were and recognizing that one of their secrets was having an active social life and remaining very involved in their community.
With the goal of providing a very social service (alongside grocery shopping, errands and such), we hoped to offer an opportunity to seniors who lived rurally, no longer drove, were widowed or just in need of accessing more social opportunities. With all of the wonderful programs and sites to see, restaurants, and festivals in the area, we were confident we could make a big difference in the social and overall wellbeing of local seniors.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
Being new business owners just barely out of the gate, since January 2020, our hopes for improving seniors’ social lives were quickly thwarted by COVID-19. Lockdown presented us with a new obstacle, an opportunity to make changes and adapt. We quickly realized our services were still very much needed, although the social aspect was unfortunately being put on hold for the time being.
Throughout COVID, we have learned to change and adapt our services, put some on hold, but continue to provide the needed services currently required, such as safe grocery and supply shopping and transportation to medical appointments.
We are concentrating on the tasks at hand right now regarding COVID and remaining positive as we look toward the future, to brighter days.
How have you been supported by the community?
Our business has been gradually growing and we continually strive to find more opportunities to become known to seniors, who are not overly confident using/accessing social media. This has been and remains our biggest hurdle right now.
Aside from the above challenge, our local community has been incredible, and we have had wonderful support, despite COVID. We have met some incredible seniors who have shown us such gratitude, love and patience as we carved our way through our first year (and the pandemic).
We have also been so positively influenced by other longstanding local small businesses, and have been inspired by their creativity, determination and perseverance.
We feel the pandemic has truly been an incredible learning opportunity to put our skills as human service workers to the test and to find creative, safer ways to provide a necessary service, in the throes of a worldwide pandemic. We often consider the fact that it may have taken us even longer to get our names out there if there hadn’t actually been a need that presented itself throughout this ordeal.
What is something good that has come out of this difficult time?
We choose to look at this pandemic as a silver lining for our business within a very dark cloud. As we strive to serve more seniors during this difficult time, we are very much looking forward to the day where we can once again concentrate on providing all the wonderful social opportunities (both mentally and physically) that so many seniors benefit from within our community.
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
As we still consider ourselves to be very new business owners, we wouldn’t feel confident giving any advice other than:
– Learning to roll with the punches
– Making use of the amazing skills within each of us, and
– Look to others for inspiration, support, creativity and find new ways of providing services in an otherwise negative/scary situation.