By Heidi Bevington-Funding dried up last month for the islands’ seniors program that ran three days a week out of the seniors building in Skidegate.
Program coordinator Wendi Greene said she is devastated and frustrated, but nobody is to blame – the money just ran out.
The program for all islanders aged 50-plus has been going for a couple of years. Funding came from diverse sources, including Aboriginal health, Gwaii Trust, the Hospital Day board, and the Skidegate Band Council, Ms Greene said. Since April, the Skidegate Band Council has been the only financial support for the program. On June 28, the band told Ms Greene it could not continue.
“The Skidegate Band has given us lots of support financially but they cannot possibly be the sole financial supporters of the program,” said Ms Greene.
Unfortunately the loss of the seniors program will also mean the loss of a new meals-on-wheels program, Ms Greene said. Gwaii Trust gave the program $25,000 to provide meals for seniors in their homes, but that funding depended on a functioning seniors program, so both programs are now ended.
On the last day, Ms Greene said, they delivered 23 lunches and the program was averaging 43 participating people. As well as food, the program provided individualized exercise programs, weekly visits by a nurse from the Skidegate Health Centre, blood sugar monitoring and companionship.
“Isolation is the greatest detriment to seniors health,” Ms Greene said. “Nobody wants to be lonely.”
All communities on the islands supported the program, Ms Greene said, with seniors coming from as far away as Sandspit and Port Clements to participate.
“The single most positive things I come away from is how the communities can cooperate for a common goal,” Ms Greene said. “Our diverse communities can work together and work well.”
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