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Where do seniors turn now?

Meadows resident Fred Konkin examines a pottery serving plate up for a draw at the Seniors Round Up hosted by the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation at Cowichan Exhibition Park Mellor Hall on Sunday, May 27. - Andrew Leong
Meadows resident Fred Konkin examines a pottery serving plate up for a draw at the Seniors Round Up hosted by the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation at Cowichan Exhibition Park Mellor Hall on Sunday, May 27.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

There's little doubt  last week's demise of Seniors Resource and Support Society has left a big hole in programs and services for Cowichan Valley's seniors, say local seniors boosters.

And people are now asking where seniors can turn to connect with help they once received from SSRS-Cowichan.

"There's an undeniable need for a major seniors' 'hub' here in Cowichan," ssaid Carol Hunt, executive director of Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation.

"Any one of us currently functioning is much too small to take on this role."

Representatives of seniors support groups are planning to get together soon to identify who can take over  roles left by the SRSS closure, she said.

What's needed, she added, is a seniors centre that can centralize many of the activities around aging well in Cowichan.

"Unless we mobilize immediately, we will be forever trying to do catch up. Our high seniors population warrants some serious attention as to how to get this planning process fast-tracked," she said.

Meanwhile, Hunt and others in the seniors arena have suggestions how seniors can find help.

Originally a funding organization to help other seniors groups  run their programs, CSCF has moved in to provide some services — volunteer door-to-door transportation, for example.

Its comprehensive Seniors Directory can be found online and in public places including the library and doctors' offices. Seniors can phone CSCF for information about other agencies, programs and services related to health and wellness at 250-715-6481.

"It's important that the community preserves the seniors programs and services we have," agrees Volunteer Cowichan executive director Georg Stratemeyer.

"We're an information centre that's open every day and we can direct people to other agencies — anything they need," said VC's office manager Joan Notte.

Notte and Amber Christie are familiar with SSRS programs as they were the first contact with seniors accessing the SSRS office. VC is in the basement of Duncan City Hall, and can be reached at 250-748-2133.

At SRSS, seniors could hone computer skills. Literacy Now Cowichan at 250-597-1776 runs a free technology program to help seniors stay in touch with family and friends.

"If you're a senior and have an iPad, computer or cellphone you don't know how to use, our program can help you," says Barb DeGroot, LNC president.

Valley Seniors Organization at 198 Government Street, 250-746-4433, is well known for its activities and social events.

For a modest annual membership, seniors can join in activities like dance, choir, crafts, and indoor games.

Their 52-seater bus takes seniors on frequent inexpensive road trips, says secretary Cathy Wilson.

As well Valley Seniors — a totally volunteer group — donates some $10,000 per year to organizations that support seniors.

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