Seniors capturing memories and staying connected
Margaret Howard’s first husband Robert died in a motorcycle accident in 1982 before any of her six children were married. Today, she has 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild who never knew their grandfather. As a member of the Rustico Bay Seniors Club, Howard is hoping to change that by taking part in a workshop series to learn the art of scrapbooking – so she can record his life story, and her own – as a gift to them.
“Before we were married, I saw a beautiful wedding dress at Eaton’s and just had to have it,” recalls Howard of Rennies Road, near Hunter River. “I told the clerk that I only had $50 to spend.”
With a bit of negotiation, she had the dress custom-made for $55, which was just more than two weeks pay for her at the time. That dress has proven to be timeless. Since her wedding in 1958, her sister-in-law, three of her daughters and a granddaughter, as recently as 2016, all wore that same gown to get married.
While other seniors sit at tables strewn with handwritten stories, brightly-coloured papers and piles of photos, Art Buote, president of Rustico Bay Club Inc, wanders from table to table chatting and laughing knowing that this get together, and many of the others he’s organized for the club, has an underlying objective – to help to combat social isolation among seniors.
The Rustico Bay Seniors run an active club with more than 30 members who organize a Good Neighbour program, monthly dances with traditional music, weekly card parties, and much more to promote the physical and social well-being of seniors, aged 55 plus.
“A little money goes a long way,” said Buote, a retired French immersion teacher, speaking of the Seniors’ Secretariat grant the club received this year. “We try to organize activities that help seniors develop new skills at no cost, as many from the area are retired farmers, fishers and homemakers who have small pensions.”
In 2019, 23 non-profit organizations and municipal governments received PEI Seniors’ Secretariat Grants to support activities that align with priority areas for action: to reduce the social isolation of seniors; to promote positive images of aging; to educate about financial security and safety; and Home First/Age in Place projects.
“As Islanders, we come together to support the needs of our communities. It is great to see the dedication of these service organizations to give back to our Island seniors who have made such an impact in our province."
- Ernie Hudson, minister responsible for seniors.
PEI Seniors’ Secretariat 2019 Community Grant Recipients
Rustico Bay Club Inc $2,682
Social Interaction/learning for Seniors: Project offers variety of activities to support seniors to be more active in club and community: 8 sessions of painting with oil paint; 8 sessions of line dancing; social dance night with traditional music and promoting involvement of everyone; day trip outing in 25 passenger bus to visit PEI attractions.
Alzheimer Society $2,500
Volunteer Companion Program Expansion: Project aims to expand on success of the Volunteer Companion Program - a one-on-one visiting program for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease or related dementia - through recruitment of 10 new volunteer companions and training sessions in order to create additional matches. Volunteers visit weekly with an individual to provide socialization and meaningful activity. Primary goals include: 1) reduce social isolation 2) promote active, healthy living for personas living with Dementia and their caregivers 3) decrease caregiver stress 4) support community inclusion and 5) delay long-term care placement.
Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association $3,000
Connecting Generations Through Nature: Project seeks to encourage intergenerational learning by connecting seniors, youth and community members in collaborative activities that encourage ecological stewardship through hands on workshops, gardening/fishing activity days and nature demonstrations.
Catholic Family Services Bureau $2,100
Music Therapy Chime Choir will enhance the daily lives of residents living at Centennial Court through a creative and innovative music therapy program. The 12 week program consists of weekly 1 hour music therapy group sessions, and be concluded by a musical performance for residents and the public. The work expands on music therapy services currently provided to reach more people.
Council of the Rural Municipality of Clyde River $1,850
Active Seniors who Lunch and Learn: Project will promote positive images of aging through exercise, dancing and recreational activities and will provide presentations on financial security, in-home security, and nutrition. Interested seniors will be supported to prepare lunch following activities.
Fortune Community Centre $1,700
Beyond Bingo - Seniors Wellness and Social Activities: Project would like to facilitate alternative programs to promote wellness and active living activities for Seniors: 1) Chair Yoga, stretching, basic yoga and meditation; 2) How to improve posture and mobility issues, ergonomics and aids for various disabilities; 3) Card nights; 4) Basic First Aid and CPR (defib on site). Facilitators will be trained Yoga instructor and an NP. Senior survey identified other potential activities to include - basic computer, gardening, art classes, chat groups around needlework, and musicals. Local population within 10 mile radius consists of 1789 seniors 55+ and 98 who are 80+ years.
Good Neighbourly Seniors Club $2,000
Fitness for Seniors: Project will rent space at Tracadie Community Centre for use of gymnasium and to pay a fitness instructor to run classes 3 times per week for one year. Plan is to create a comfortable space for seniors to exercise at their fitness level. One class per week will be chair or mat yoga while the other 2 will focus on fitness and cardio. Senior participants will provide transportation to others.
Hear PEI Association Inc. $900
Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI: Project will expand reach of current activities on hearing loss topics with launch of short videos - such as can be posted on You tube of specific topics of interest to Seniors. Seniors will engage in the work of the project, and project will strive to ensure that any experts (video production and preparation of closed captioning) would be Seniors. Videos will have closed captioning and be made available on on-going basis on Organization's blog, You tube, or other social media.
Milton Community Hall $1,588
Miltonvale Park Seniors' Expressions: Project will involve "painting in one session" similar to art party events, and also the formation of a new seniors choral group. Art classes will be followed by a Christmas Seniors Art Party for 50 seniors to display creations.
New London Community Complex $1,277
Water Color Paint Lessons with Julia Purcell: 10 seniors will participate in 8 week Art Project to facilitate development of new skills and learning at any age. Project addresses social isolation and offers a small group; quiet activity setting that promotes creativity and sense of accomplishment. Volunteers provide transportation if needed.
Roots of Empathy $3,000
Engaging with Senior Citizens Through Roots of Empathy: Project will train a senior citizen as a new instructor to deliver the program in West Royalty Elementary School, Charlottetown. Project focuses on development of empathy in children and intergenerational connections.
Senior Surfers Club of Kensington and Area $2,402
Having Comfort and Contentment in My Home: Project aims to reduce isolation for seniors over 80 years-old who live alone via bus trips to historic and cultural sites, round table discussions, instruction and equipment for low impact exercise, and educational workshops.
Shamrock Seniors Club $1, 460
Dancing Seniors: Project aims to increase members' balance, mobility and mental health through a 10 week dance instruction program held for 15 participants in the Fort Augustus Recreation Club.
Souris Silver Threads Club $1,850
Up-staged Onstage: Project will hire a play-write and director to produce and stage a play in collaboration with seniors planning committee. The staging of production will employ seniors in active living roles.
The Mount Community Council $2,000
Helpful Harmonies: The Mount Council has an accredited music therapist that provides music therapy one hour per week in group setting. Project seeking to expand to five hours per week to include group therapy as well as an invitation to senior population within Charlottetown and one to one quality of life therapy. Project will incorporate physical, mental, and social activity to encourage wellness of Mount residents and surrounding community.
Three Rivers 50 + Group $3,000
Seniors Leading and Learning: Project seeks to reach non-members of the 50+ Group that no longer drive or are at risk of isolation and provide educational programming and social events. Written and personal contact will be made to identify isolated seniors in each district. New initiatives will include range of program information addressing safety in homes (fraud, life-line, medication safety), and many social activities, to include show and tell days for heritage items, stories of old days, healthy lunches, in province travel tours, 4-5 holiday socials, yoga, walks and/or sightseeing in local parks, and a volunteer recognition day.
Tignish Community Member Relations Inc. $858
Once A Week Wonders: Project proposes that women of mature age from 55-85 years meet once per week for six events to provide opportunity for physical activities, promote mental health, learn new skills and socialize, and creative expression through art in the park. Information will be provided on nutrition, healthy food choices, first aid in the home, and protection from scams.
Town of Cornwall $2,500
Breaking Barriers to Social Inclusion: Project proposes programming to provide a variety of informational and active living sessions to seniors in Cornwall and surrounding areas. Tea and Talk will provide 12-15 sessions on topics of interest to seniors such as frauds and scams, nutrition, aging in place, protecting assets, and navigating government programs. Let's Get Active stream provides two sessions of various physical activities to provide exposure and information on active living activities in communities. A Community Lunch Program features weekly lunch and social event over 6 month period.
Uigg/Kinross/Grandview Womens’ Institute $3,000
Seniors Inclusion Project: Project will provide new programming to help prevent isolation consisting of weekly card games, delivery of Valentine's baskets for seniors with mobility issues, an early spring dinner with transportation provided, an Old fashioned Community Christmas evening for seniors and young families, and monthly educational sessions on topics of interest.
UPSE Local 19 $2,940
Province Wide Seniors Learning Exchange: Planning Now for Our Future: Project proposes three components: (1) Present final draft of Guide Book entitled "Personal Guide Book for Family/Caregivers - Should I become Incapacitated or Die" to Island seniors for input via one focus group per county prior to publication;(2) Hold workshop day for PEI Seniors to encourage them to plan and discuss living situation with family, with discussions of real scenarios; and (3) Host additional mini education sessions to discuss issues in document, including pharmacology, pensions, wills/power of attorney/health care directives, Senior's College, PEI grants/assistance, home care and repair.
Western Hospital Foundation $2,500
Making Recreation More Accessible for Patients: Aims to increase resources available to volunteers (mostly seniors) who organize recreation activities through purchase of wheelchair accessible activity tables, comfortable chairs for seniors' activities, TV to incorporate regular movie time, and new games. Focus is to increase patient access to new volunteer led programming, and promote joint participation in indoor and outdoor activities.
Women's Network PEI $2,500
Still Visible: Senior Leadership Women's Conference: Project proposes two-day Senior Women leadership conference as follow up to Still Visible Project. One-day conference will bring together over 35 women to promote opportunity to share experiences with regards to aging, knowledge, and wisdom, and learn about specific topics through networking, workshops, guest speakers and other activities.
Young at Heart Musical Theatre for Seniors $3,000
Fascinating Maritime Ladies: Project will develop and present new show with focus on female singers from Maritimes. Shows will feature sets, costumes, props and music, and be designed to engage Seniors and address priorities of respect, inclusion, social interaction, and communication. Shows will facilitate audience participation, with elements of sing-along and dance lessons.