They help seniors from Bowser to Black Creek; now the Comox Valley Senior Support Society is asking for community assistance by putting one foot in front of the other.
Pamela Willis, manager of the society (formerly the Comox Valley Senior Peer Counselling Society) said the primarily volunteer-driven organization helps seniors throughout the Valley with a variety of non-medical and non-clinical supports and programs for vulnerable seniors.
The society is partnering with Glacier View Lodge to present the Grand Parade, a two- and five-kilometre walk on June 1 to raise awareness and funds for the needs of seniors.
“There’s a perception in the community that seniors are doing just fine. Yes – they are, but there’s a lot who are not,” explained Willis.
She said the organization has been established in the community for about 30 years and runs on “a shoestring budget” and a fundraiser will support their ongoing programs and services such as Friendly Visiting, Caregiver Support, Senior Information and Access Support as well as general information, referral and individual (in-office) support.
Willis noted the walk has two goals: to raise awareness about seniors within the community and those who need support and to raise $30,000 (to be split with Glacier View).
The organization has approximately 90 trained volunteers who work in the programs.
“Sometimes a volunteer agrees to visit (a senior) for once a week for one hour; it could be life-changing and life-saving,” she noted.
She added their Caregiver Support program aims to create support for those undertaking the role, whether at home or in a care home. She said caregiving is a misunderstood endeavour and the society offers groups for both men and women.
“We are a little organization with a huge mandate. Supporting (the walk) is acknowledging seniors – everyone is affected and knows somebody who is older than themselves. Being a senior is a roll we’re all going to take. You are helping those in the community who need support to live well and not be pushed to the side or marginalized.”
Glacier View Lodge is home to more than 100 residents – largely seniors – needing 24-hour professional health care. Such as the CVSSS, the lodge strives to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom for those who live with them or attend outreach programs.
This year, the lodge is raising funds to support their Restorative Care Program and would like to replace some of the equipment integral to the program, specifically the long tub in their bathing room, explained Wanda McMillan, executive director with the lodge.
She said their bathing room aims for a ‘spa-like’ experience for those within the lodge and community members as well.
“Everyone has a neighbour or family member who knows what the needs of seniors are,” she said and added the walk serves an opportunity to bring more awareness around issues for seniors within the community.
Liz Friis, director of resident lifestyles and community programs for the lodge said the partnership between the two organizations is a good one, as there is a crossover, particularly with individual support and their Adult Day Program.
“The walk is a lovely way to honour the older people in the Comox Valley and their lives but also a way to shape our community to bring more awareness to the elderly population.”
Although they are finalizing the routes, the walk is confirmed to be taking place in Courtenay, with a start time of 10:15 a.m. on June 1. A light lunch is set to follow the walk, and Willis encourages people to create or join a team. Registration is set to begin at 9 a.m. Route marshals, rest stop attendants and sweep vehicles drivers will available for support along the route.
There is no limit to the size or fundraising goal of the team; for more information or to register, visit thegrandparade.org/location/comoxvalley