Remote Community Rallies Around Intrepid Seniors
A new United Way-supported outreach program has the Surge Narrows community crossing trail and sea to support seniors.
In the Strait of Georgia, out beyond Quadra Island to the North and East are remote homesteads where a few hundred people have gone to live alone in the woods.
But community is still a necessity.
The area, called Surge Narrows, is made up of five islands. There is no store, and not much in the way of amenities except for a floating post office on a dock, a two-room school in the forest, an impressively built gym and whatever you can bring with you.
But some of the people who have brought the most to the community are needing help.
Many of the community’s trailblazers are now seniors, and they want to keep living the lives they’ve made for themselves out in the woods.
Thanks to a United Way-funded program for seniors, and their caring community, they can.
Lise Batcheller is the program’s support worker and a trusted member of the community: she visits about 20 seniors in the Surge Narrows area on a weekly basis. But the service is a bit different than what you might see elsewhere. The job requires a boat, an ATV, a chainsaw to clear trails with, bear scares, and the right social credit to be trusted by seniors who carefully guard their privacy and independence.
Add to that the ability to change a wound, chop firewood, clean a kitchen, and be the eyes and ears of a visiting doctor and you begin to get an idea of Batcheller.
While these supports may begrudgingly accepted by the seniors, it’s the opportunity to sit down and chat that has helped them get through their isolation. Collecting their stories has become an integral part of the program.
Batcheller’s work has only become more important since COVID-19 hit the region. Reducing extreme or increased senior isolation and the impacts of reduced services is a huge priority to help keep this community strong during a pandemic.
Recognizing that, UWCNVI directed money from the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund to this program. But support from United Way means more than funding – we provide community development, communications and administrative support, research, expertise and real partnership to make these programs as impactful as possible.
Your generosity is what keeps communities like this one strong.