Good food, good friends: Seniors grant helps promote wellness

Members of the Benevolent Irish Society Taste of Irish Baking class

Last spring, David Murphy received an email from the government of PEI that stood apart from the other messages in his inbox.

“When I saw the email about grants for culture programs for seniors, I knew it was the perfect fit.”

Murphy is a member of the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) – one of PEI’s oldest organizations whose goal is to preserve Irish culture and heritage.

“Most of our members are seniors,” says Murphy, who serves as the society’s treasurer. “So, I knew we could do something, offer some programming for them – and other seniors – through the secretariat grant.”

The Seniors’ Secretariat Grant encourages eligible organizations and communities to take on projects designed to improve the lives of older adults on PEI. Its goals include supporting age-friendly initiatives and reducing social isolation for seniors.

Goals that aligned with the BIS’s objective of promoting friendship and togetherness, says Murphy.

“A lot of people just need to know where they can go.”

With the support of some fellow BIS members, Murphy developed ideas for a variety of programs, then applied to the grant hoping to receive funding.

“I sent in my first draft and she told me it was good, but suggested I give greater detail – so it was easier to follow and understand,” says Murphy of the government staff member at the Office of Seniors.

A while later, Murphy received another email: the BIS was approved for funding for five programs.

“We had The Skill of the Potter presentation, ancestry research, our book club, a beginners bridge club, and our Taste of Irish Baking class,” says Murphy. 

Each program was advertised to the public and open to everyone, not just BIS members.

“We wanted to get new people coming in – and we did,” says Murphy. “We had 24 people at the pottery presentation. Twenty-two of them made a piece of pottery.”

Showing hands making a loaf of bannock bread
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Potato bannock was just one of the treats participants of the Taste of Irish Baking class got to enjoy. Since hosting the class, the Benevolent Irish Society has welcomed three new members to its organization.

Murphy says the funding allowed the BIS to host its programs for free, removing the financial barrier that might have kept some from attending in the past, when programming sometimes involved a fee.

“It can be difficult for seniors to broaden their interests at a reasonable cost,” says Murphy. “So, money-wise, it makes a difference when it’s free. It gets more people out.”

He encourages other eligible groups to apply for a Seniors Secretariat Grant.

“To be able to use the resources available, it’s good for any community, non-profit or charitable organization.”

And he hopes word gets around, so others can benefit, too.

“I’m very pleased I found out about it and the support we received,” says Murphy.

“It’s a great partnership.”

Senior Secretariat Grant applications for projects and events are open until April 21, 2023.
For more information, including the grant application form, visit the Seniors’ Secretariat Grant webpage.

Want to learn more about or become a member of the BIS? Head to the Benevolent Irish Society website

General Inquiries

Department of Social Development and Seniors
2nd Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-620-3777
Toll-free: 1-866-594-3777
Fax: 902-368-4740