Beachburg -- Although COVID has delayed its official launch, the new Whitewater Seniors Home Support and Active Living pilot project is up and running.
The program is operating out of the building that housed the former Scotiabank Branch in Beachburg, thanks to its new owner, Pembroke lawyer Michael Conroy. Mr. Conroy has provided the space free of charge for the six months of the pilot project. Cobden native Andrea (Dick) McIntyre has been hired as Seniors Liaison Coordinator on contract for 25 hours a week. She began her duties on June 7.
Ms. McIntyre said she is very excited to a part of this project.
“I am a huge advocate for Active Living programs and services and it is even better when you can be a part of something that will positively impact the community you have lived in for most your life,” she said. “We are strengthening partnerships that Whitewater Region already has with Carefor and Renfrew and Area Home Supports as well as other organizations within our region.”
Hours of accessibility for the Beachburg office for the summer months will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning July 6th. These days and times will be evaluated this fall.
Ms. McIntyre said the program is actively looking for volunteers within Whitewater Region for drivers for the transportation component of the program as well as for the Friendly Call/Visit program.
“We will be striving to support other organizations that have programs and services in place to help the seniors of Whitewater Region access them,” she said.
The pilot was one of the main action items coming out of the recently completed Seniors Needs Assessment and Age-Friendly Community Plan which was realized due to funding received from a $24,000 Ontario’s Seniors Community Grants. A Seniors Task Force was set up in 2019 to guide Whitewater Region’s review of services and supports to seniors.
The pilot is made possible by a $60,000 grant from Ontario’s Inclusive Community Grants Program.
Project objectives are:
· Establish a local storefront with a coordinator to deliver home support services, transportation, and linkages that are not fragmented;
· Strengthen the rural volunteering sector to retain services essential to support aging in place;
· Improve communication and awareness of home support services;
· Increase linkages to other community health services, creating referrals and improved access, safety and well-being.
“The program is a great example of what we can achieve when we work together,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “Through the Inclusive Community Grants our government is taking steps to ensure our communities are more inclusive and accessible to better serve older Ontarians.”
Mr. Conroy said he was pleased to partner with the township on this initiative by providing space in a central location.
“I look forward to seeing the building used for such a community program,” he said.
Whitewater Seniors Home Support and Active Living is a partnership with Carefor Health and Community Services Pembroke-Renfrew County and Renfrew and Area Seniors’ Home support Inc. These partners will help assure access to already existing programs including Transportation, Companion, and Frozen Meal programs, as well as the Going Home, Palliative Volunteer Visiting, Friendly Visiting, Stroke Survivor, Home Help, Volunteer Income Tax, Golden Age Activity Center, and the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls program. Other referrals include the telephone assurance program for check-ins, medication reminders, and event reminders.
“We are pleased to partner on this pilot to ensure seniors in Whitewater Region have access to our programs and services,” stated Sharon Mayes, Director of Operations for Carefor.
Dennis Harrington, Executive Director of Renfrew and Area Seniors’ Home Support Inc., said he looks forward to working with the township and all partners to make Whitewater Seniors Home Support and Active Living a success for years to come.”
Whitewater Mayor Mike Moore said council is pleased to see this initiative come to fruition.
“It would not be possible without dedicated volunteers, provincial funding, committed community partners, and a generous business owner,” he said.
The program is currently working on promotional and marketing material for website and Facebook page, which is expected to go live soon at https://www.facebook.com/Township-of-Whitewater-Region-285292581603110
The website at www.whitewaterseniors.ca is live now.
Councillor Neil Nicholson, Chair of the Task Force thanked members of the Seniors Task Force for their work and insights adding this initiative would not be possible without their vision for an inclusive community that supports seniors.
Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader