Three seniors’ organizations in the region will share in $155,000 in provincial funding provided with the goal of keeping older Ontarians active during the pandemic.
The money will also help the groups bolster their online presence.
The $154,730.35 in new funding was announced last week by Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris.
Locally, Community Care Concepts (CCC) and the Woolwich Seniors Association (WSA) will each benefit from $54,014.41, while Saint Luke’s Place in Cambridge will receive $46,701.53.
“I think that the really big thing here and the important piece is we really want to make sure that we’re keeping seniors as active as possible during a really tough time for them. We’ve seen a lot of seniors having to stay at home and not being able to get out to some of these organized events and centres to participate in some of the great activities. So, the nice thing with this funding is it’s going to help bolster a bigger online presence for a lot of these organizations to be able to still be out making an impact in the community,” said Harris.
He says organizations can use the money for the likes of wellness programs, social connections, and educational programming that is telephone- or online-based. He says it does not have to be web-based, but connecting seniors virtually is the key.
Seniors have been one of the groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many shifts have been made by organizations to ensure they are able to continue to provide them with services. Many have increased telephone-based programming such as check-ins, while also using newer platforms like Zoom to provide online classes, presentations, and other forms of connecting seniors who may feel isolated.
The WSA and CCC have both implemented new programming through many means and hope to continue expanding on the work they have done with the funding coming to them.
WSA coordinator Nancy Lucier says the organization is extremely grateful for the funding they will be receiving and are already looking into how they will use it to better programming at the senior’s centre.
“We’re thankful every year that we are able to receive support from the provincial government, because it allows us to continue our community organization’s [work by] providing programming for older adults in Woolwich and surrounding areas. And it’s very important. It’s a really important organization in that we have such a great network of older adults that stay connected with each other,” said Lucier. “The most important thing is that we’re able to stay connected with seniors in our community.”
She says they have already been able to check in with more people through phone calls, bring people together via Zoom, and continue to look to the future as they bring more programming to the population.
Cathy Harrington, executive director at CCC, said she too is happy to receive the funding as it will help the agency further its programming after major changes had to be made related to the pandemic.
“Seniors active living centres provide an important component of Community Care Concepts’ broad continuum of community-based services that support seniors across our rural communities to live independently in their own homes. We are grateful for the funding provided through the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility to support our mobile model of seniors active living centres which are an important source of connection and well-being for seniors living in rural communities across Wellesley Township,” said Harrington.
“While this past year has forced us to transition from a variety of in-person group social and recreational activities, this funding has been critical in helping us to offer a variety of virtual and remote programs as well as maintain critical well-being checks and connections to address social isolation, ensuring that the health, safety and well-being of seniors in our community is addressed.”