I have a dream that all seniors in Whistler will know there is an advocate in the community for them. As the Seniors Needs Action Planner(SNAP) for Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS), I work as an outreach worker for seniors and program planner. Over the past three years I have organized a weekly walking group, snowshoe program, weekly drop in, guest speakers, senior’s expo and other events.
As a 30-something-year old, it has been a goal of mine to merge with the seniors network and ensure that they are aware of the services that WCSS offers to them.
Community engagement is a large part of advocacy. How do you measure whether you have met your goal to be engaged and recognized? I realized recently that I have hit the gold mine. At a recent community event (park dedication) not only did I know the majority of the people present, I was able to engage by first names with most individuals. How does this all link back to the programs and services that SNAP and WCSS offer? It has taken me three years to realize that the success of programs is not completely based on the number of participants. With seniors its quality of programs and engagement, not quantity of participants. It is challenging for me to accept that Whistler’s seniors are often busy, and not able to join me for weekly programs. I am so happy to know that many seniors are not sitting at home in a rocking chair watching the days go by, but busy giving back to our community.
As a graduate of McMaster’s University gerontology program, I learned how social isolation and loneliness affect seniors. Many of Whistler seniors do not have time to be isolated as they are busy volunteering. Look back at all the events and programs that our community has hosted this summer. There are countless volunteer hours devoted by seniors. This brings me joy as it really does add character to our community and ensure that seniors feel a sense of purpose and are engaged. For any senior who is feeling lonely I’m always available for a cup of coffee and a confidential listening ear. We have a warm inviting space at our office 1519 Spring Creek Drive. You can connect with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-902-0865.
What can Whistler look like in 2023 for seniors? As Whistler ages, changes will occur. I have been part of a positive change to support seniors from 2010 and continue to witness the growth of programs. My hope is that in 2023 Whistler will have perfected the ‘aging in place’ philosophy and offer access to affordable housing, transportation and the ability for seniors to have adequate income to survive in a resort town. I hope more social supports are offered to seniors so they can transition from one ability level to the other.
My dream is that one day, the seniors in Whistler will all know who I am and feel comfortable to access the programs offered by WCSS.
So please help me reach my dream and let other seniors know who I am.
Did You Know that you can call the Senior Needs Action Planner(SNAP), Melissa Deller 604-902-0865, or email her at email@example.com with any questions on aging in Whistler, or for up coming programs? Contact SNAP to get on the email list to know whats going on for the 50+ group.