Seniors come together online and in person to discuss seniors’ issues and win prizes


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With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting normal social activities, seniors in Elliot Lake are meeting online and expect to meet soon in small in-person groups to discuss issues of concern to seniors, thanks to an organization local non-profit.

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The DiversityCanada Foundation, which organizes several activities for seniors, recently began hosting weekly online meetings open to anyone in Elliot Lake aged 55 and older.

The organization has also provided residents of four Elliot Lake Retirement Living buildings with pantry supplies to enable them to hold in-person coffee meetings when public health restrictions are eased.

“Being isolated isn’t healthy for anyone,” said Donna Preston, resident representative for the Washington Crescent apartment complex, who received some of the refreshments. “So it’s important to have activities like these where people can come together and see their friends and neighbors and feel part of a community.”

Held as part of the “Golden Years Project”, the activities are designed to bring seniors together to discuss issues of concern ranging from abuse of joint bank accounts to low back pain, to how to apply for programs that help reduce utility bills.

Although many discussions will be about serious matters, there will be time for fun as participants will have the chance to win prizes such as fruit baskets, coffee gift baskets, beauty gift baskets , winter care packages, cooler bags and gift cards.

The Golden Years project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program and is supported by several local businesses.

These sponsors include: ELNOS, Tim Hortons, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Canadian Tire, Elliot Lake Fire Department and Elliot Lake Retirement Living.

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Those wishing to participate in online meetings can learn more and register by visiting the following link: https://GoldenVoices.com/discussions-signup/

As for face-to-face meetings, they will necessarily be small in scale and will involve residents of partner establishments.

“It is clear that for some time to come, it will be prudent to limit in-person gatherings to protect attendees and the wider community,” said DiversityCanada CEO Celia Sankar. “Fortunately, each of the four buildings we partner with has its own meeting room and activities committee that can facilitate smaller-scale gatherings.”

While these meeting rooms are currently closed, Sankar said the project is now putting discussion resources and coffee meeting supplies into the hands of seniors so they are ready to start as soon as restrictions are eased.

Like everyone else, older people yearn for an end to the social isolation brought about by pandemic-related restrictions. However, caution is still paramount, according to Jim Preston, a representative for residents of the Washington Crescent apartment complex.

“Although we are in residential buildings, we must follow all public health rules,” Preston said. “Anyone wishing to participate in group activities must first present proof of vaccination.”

Bob Dunlop, a representative for residents of the Warsaw Place apartment complex, who also received supplies to host coffee get-togethers, noted that focus groups are especially welcome at this time of year.

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“Some seniors usually go to warmer places during the winter, but have had to cancel their plans due to COVID,” Dunlop said. “So good to have those activities to forget about those missed travel opportunities.”

In addition to these activities, nearly 500 local seniors receive bi-weekly emails featuring recorded discussions with subject matter experts as well as everyday seniors on the topics that form the basis of online and in-person group meetings. .

Online gatherings are expected to continue weekly until the first week of March.

Sankar said seniors who may be new to computers and want to attend are encouraged to call the organization at 705-848-6194.

“We are also running a project to help seniors use computers and the internet,” Sankar said. “So if an older person wants advice on computers and the internet to participate in online activities, we will do our best to get it up and running.”

Photo providedResident representatives Jim and Donna Preston, and Bob Dunlop with DiversityCanada Foundation staff member Chris Elliott.  DiversityCanada has provided residents of four retirement apartment buildings in Elliot Lake with supplies to facilitate coffee get-togethers where seniors gather to discuss issues of concern to them.  The Golden Years project is intended to help restore a sense of community as isolating public health restrictions are lifted.
Photo providedResident representatives Jim and Donna Preston, and Bob Dunlop with DiversityCanada Foundation staff member Chris Elliott. DiversityCanada has provided residents of four retirement apartment buildings in Elliot Lake with supplies to facilitate coffee get-togethers where seniors gather to discuss issues of concern to them. The Golden Years project is intended to help restore a sense of community as isolating public health restrictions are lifted.

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