Seniors' independence project celebrates first year in Dawson Creek

Community Action for Seniors’ Independence (CASI) is a pilot project that seeks to link seniors with volunteers in the community who provide services such as transportation, household chores and even friendly visits. It is funded jointly by the provincial Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport and the United Way of the Lower Mainland, and administered locally by the South Peace Community Resources Society (SPCRS) and the South Peace Seniors Access Services Society (SPSASS).

At the one year mark, the program boasts having 70 seniors registered and 20 volunteers, as well as several paid contractors who provide their services at a reduced rate.

“The main strength of our program is our volunteers,” said project coordinator Linda Studley. “It’s also the fact that we have a lot of connections with different organizations in town, many of which are represented on the CASI advisory board.”

She said it is great to have the expertise of local workers with Northern Health and the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C., for example, and the resources offered by SPCRS and SPSASS.

Studley said the main challenge to the project going forward will be sustainability. She said they have enough funding to carry on beyond the 18-month term of the pilot project – the end of next March – but they will need a funding model to ensure the project can continue in perpetuity.

“We are actively looking for ways to keep the project sustainable,” she said.

She said those efforts include pursuing corporate donations and government grants, and organizing fundraising events. The program also has products for sale – it has partnered with Silvert’s, a company specializing in adaptive clothing for seniors and the disabled, so CASI receives a portion of the commission for orders placed locally. There are also two DVDs for sale called Treasured Chronicles that tell the story of local pioneers in the Peace region.

Studley said it is very gratifying to be able to assist the pioneers of the community who have made Dawson Creek what it is today.

“It’s been very rewarding for me to know that I’m part of a process that can help people who have helped our community for so many years,” she said.

That sentiment was shared by Linda Smith, who provides transportation and friendly visits to one local senior, and also contracts out her housecleaning services to several others.

“Along the way, you may need some help when you get older too, and it is fun to help seniors out,” said Smith. “They just have so many wonderful stories on how life used to be, how it is now and how it has changed, and how they deal with things and how you can help them deal with things.”

She said she knows the service is needed in the community.

“They (seniors) need somebody there, somebody they can call on to say, ‘Can you help me?’, and we can.”

The program is seeking more volunteers. Studley said in particular, they are looking for people to go shopping with seniors. Volunteering does require a criminal record check, which can be completed free of charge at the local RCMP detachment. For more information on becoming a volunteer, go online to www.casidc.org, phone 250-782-1138 ext. 228 or visit the office inside the Co-op Mall between 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Seniors interested in receiving CASI services can also register through the above-mentioned contacts. There is a one-time $10 registration fee, but most services are provided for free and arrangements can be made to assist seniors with payment if contracted services are required.  

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