We know the past several months have been particularly challenging for many seniors in our community. Cut off from family and friends when they needed the comfort and reassurance the most, many continue to struggle with the anxiety caused by social isolation.
Last March when COVID-19 forced a three-month shut-down of our Thrift Shop and a halt to many of our programs and services, we recognized that seniors were going to be one of the hardest hit by these disruptions. Especially low-income seniors who have difficulty paying for even the basics.
Did you know that 11% of seniors are considered low-income?
Many rely on our Thrift Shop for things like clothing, household items and small gifts. Many others look forward to catching up with friends and enjoying meals together while attending SOS programs like Seniors Connecting. In some cases, these are the only social activities they have.
But because these options were no longer available during the pandemic, we knew we had to reach out in different ways. And that is exactly what we did.
We began by checking in with clients on a regular basis to ensure their needs were being met. In some cases that was by providing grocery shopping or picking up their medications.
In other cases, our Seniors Advocacy Services team was able to continue offering services by assisting seniors who were in need of further individualized supports. Through this program, we provide emergency vouchers for things like food and medicine, advocacy support, and information and referrals to services offered through SOS such as counselling referrals, as well as supports available through other service providers in the district.
Here’s what one of our Seniors Advocacy Services client had to say:
“The coordinator of this program has a broad knowledge of government programs and forms, and reduced my worries as she listened, encouraged and aided me. She is informed on the challenges of seniors, she explains so we can understand. SOS provided me vouchers for gas and groceries in a subtle way. I was also cheered on with a little laughter, ending on a positive note.”
Thanks to community support, our popular Meals on Wheels program has also been able to continue. Many seniors and other adults who are unable to cook for themselves, benefit from the hot, nutritious meals delivered by our dedicated volunteers.
Like everyone else, we look forward to the time when we can all gather again. We look forward to the restart of our Seniors Connecting program, and more of the services available through our Oceanside Better at Home program that had to be halted during the pandemic.
But most of all, we look to what we can still do to reach more and do more for seniors in our region. With the number of seniors aged 75+ expected to almost double in District 69 over the next 20 years, we have much still to do as we play catch up from the financial impact caused by the pandemic.
Because we fund most of our programs through Thrift Shop revenue, and do not expect to reach the pre-pandemic income levels until at least 2022, we are asking our community to support our $1 Million SOS Project Rebuild Campaign.
For more information on how we will invest in supporting seniors as well as helping kids thrive and reducing poverty, please visit our campaign website at sosprojectrebuild.com.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful month of June as we look forward to the easing of restrictions and a summer that looks a bit more like what we have been longing for. And in the meantime, let’s work together to rebuild our community, for our children, for our grandchildren and for all those who will turn to us in need, now and in the future.
Society of Organized Services