I love the holiday season! The decorations, the food, and the spirit of giving. For myself, the holidays are also a time for reflection and celebration. And working together, we are helping seniors get the care and community they deserve.

As life does for everyone, the past year provided memorable moments and difficult challenges. On the heels of a pandemic that disproportionally affected the wellbeing of older adults, we found ourselves dealing with inflation and rising costs for goods, services, utilities, and housing. The changes were especially hard on our seniors who live on a limited, fixed income.

Yet these challenges also inspired remarkable kindness and generosity. It was heartwarming to see 103 volunteers step up to bolster our social supports with close to 4,000 hours of their time and talents. We saw donors dig a little deeper to help sustain and expand our social services. And every week, our oldest community members remind me how much we can learn from their wisdom and resiliency, especially their ability to bounce back from what life throws our way.

People like Linda (not her real name) who we met in the summer. At the time she was living in her car, as she was evicted from her rental suite when the owner sold the property. Linda spent a career helping others as a Care Aide, but the wages from her work in the caring economy were modest. Like many people who walk in our door, she learned that BC Housing had a wait list of 2-3 years for social housing. The private market’s low vacancy rate and rising rental costs posed challenges for a retiree on a fixed income. Living in a car impacted her movement and hydration, and eventually she developed blood clots that needed hospitalization. Over the next five months, our skilled staff team supported Linda to find a way forward, navigating short-term shelters, medical services, nutritional supports, and social services. I am happy to share that in November, Linda secured a new, permanent home operated by a sister organization that operates affordable housing. For someone who spent a lifetime caring for others, she deserved a system of social care to help her when it was needed.

Of course, this is one story of many this year! With your support, our staff and volunteers provided:

• 12,000 moments of information & navigational supports for 1,800 older adults
• 750 seniors with Better at Home’s non-medical home supports
• 1,800 meals, groceries and food hampers to enhance food security and nutrition
• 1,500 hours of friendly visiting
• 500 free tax returns to help low-income seniors access their benefits & entitlements
• 150 seniors supported with individualized service planning to enhance their health & wellness
• 90 seniors connected virtually in our Seniors Centre Without Walls
• And much, much more!

On behalf of our Board of Directors and employees, we wish you the very best for the holiday season and the new year! Thanks for your part in making our services possible. It truly changes lives.

Warmest regards,

Ian Gerbrandt
Executive Director, Seniors Outreach & Resource Centre