Showing isolated seniors that they are not forgotten
“It’s fellowship, it’s friendship, and above all, it’s not being alone,” says Felicity.
That’s her description of the United Way-funded Hardy Bay Senior Citizen’s Society. Despite only having been a member for the last few years, it has been absolutely vital to her and her husband over the course of the pandemic.
Felicity and John moved to Port Hardy in July of 2019. Felicity soon found volunteer work with the senior’s society as a way to meet people and to give back to her new community. But it wasn’t long before COVID put a stop to her volunteering.
“We were gearing up for our St. Patrick’s Day, and we were going to be doing a Jig’s dinner … and the day before we cancelled,” says Rosaline, board chair for the society. “We said we’re going to close down for two weeks just to see how this pandemic is going to go.”
Around the same time, Rosaline says her doctor told her to stay home.
“‘If you get covid, you will not make it,’” was what Rosaline was told.
Stay in your home, or risk dying from a terrible disease – many people, and many seniors, in particular, was told that message. But for others, like Felicity, life demanded even more.
“I had nobody in town … and then it got worse: my husband got cancer, August of 2020.”
United Way funding kept these seniors from being alone
While Felicity and John were doing night trips to Campbell River in ambulances for chemo treatments, Rosaline and the senior’s society had received a United Way grant and were ready to act on it.
“After a month, we thought, our seniors are not meeting, we’re not really communicating,” says Rosaline. “We thought, well we’ll send out soup and a bun to everybody. And then we sent out a bag of groceries, and then we sent out a small gift bag. And then we realized that the seniors were really desperate for company, desperate to be in touch with somebody.
“So that's when we decided we’d send out the meals. We drew up a list of the most vulnerable … By the time we stopped at the end of July this year, we had up to 90 on it.”
Included on that list were John and Felicity.
“We came back from a chemo session, and ... they’d added me to the list, and I just bawled my eyes out,” says Felicity.
“Every two weeks we’d go to chemo, and when we came back, there were meals waiting for us … And it was far more than the food, believe me. Way more than the food.”
Maintaining vital connections in many ways
The senior’s society sent out personally signed cards, gift bags, flowers, chocolate, a custom calendar featuring their members in happier times, and so much more. It was all in an effort to show these seniors that they aren’t forgotten.
Felicity certainly received that message.
“It’s that feeling that you’re alone, you have to get through it, you have to do it all by yourself. … That’s just how I felt. And then these people stepped in with a bowl of soup and love. It was amazing.”
With this support, made possible through a partnership with United Way, John and Felicity are happy and healthy, alongside their friends at the senior’s society.
But many more seniors need this kind of support, and you can give it to them
A Statistics Canada study done before the pandemic showed that 12 per cent of study participants aged 65 and older felt socially isolated. The study also showed that those who did not participate in community activities regularly were at a higher risk of death.
Maintaining vital connections in community can be a matter of life and death. But you can make a difference by donating to United Way. We need your help because more and more need it.
“Three years ago when we got our first United Way grant, we had 71 members. Now we have 240,” says Rosaline.
Let’s be there for our seniors like Felicity. Donate today.