Friendship, the gift to give on day 8 of 12 Days for Good

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One of the hardest things about getting older is the lack of social opportunities as your mobility, vision and hearing decreases. It becomes harder to get around and sometimes, in poor weather you are stuck at home because you can’t manage slippery stairs or icy sidewalks.

“I broke my leg, and then my toe” an elderly food hamper patron told me on the phone the other day, “all from when I slipped in the snow. Last week, I had to cancel all of my appointments because it snowed and I was too afraid – I don’t want to go through all of that again.”

In my own life, my grandpa is in his late seventies and struggles with the changes to his life that come with age. Because of his health he found himself unable to go out in public, things that he had previously enjoyed doing, like camping and canoeing, had to end. He can turn to family like myself and my father, through ill health and stress, both of which play havoc with his memory and make it harder for him to manage things like his finances and get to vital appointments.  Not everyone is like my grandpa though.  They may not have any family left, and struggle with social isolation.

Want to know how you can help?

If you are able-bodied and have interest in interacting with the elderly, there are many ways that one can become involved in providing companionship and support.  Look around your own neighbourhood or community for starters.  Is there an elderly member of your congregation, or is there an elderly neighbour on your street that you’ve chatted with a few times when you were out raking leaves in your yard?  Maybe the next time you see them you could invite them over to play cards or a game of scrabble?  Maybe you could offer to give them a ride the next time you are planning on going grocery shopping?

Remember though, as people get older, their lives change, but being independent is something we all take pride in.  So put yourself in their shoes.  We all want to live our lives with dignity, and it’s best to offer your assistance as a friend and equal.  Would you want someone offering to do things or help you with things that you are perfectly capable of doing so independently?

Are there no seniors in your life, but you wanting to extend the hand of friendship to them? Locally Community Support Connections offers a lot of services for seniors, and needs your help. One way you can help is to drive people to appointments and community programs. Want to share the gift of food? They also run Meals on Wheels. Is socializing more to your tastes?  You can become a friendly visitor and help a senior maintain their independence.

To volunteer, you can call Jennifer Ball Volunteer Coordinator at (519) 772-8787 x 251 or Ann Robitaille at (519) 772-8787 x 205

There are more ways to get involved and share the gift of friendship.  There are also organizations that help change the lives of young people in our Region and you can be the cause of that change!

For over 40 years locallyand nearly one hundred years nationally, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive difference in the lives of our nation’s youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs. One-to-one and group programs, for both in school and outside of school. A recent study has shown that there are many benefits to children participating in the program – they are better equipped to make the right choices about drugs and alcohol, more likely to stay in school and get along with their peers.

There are many types of mentoring and you can choose the one that’s right for you. For starters, there is in school mentoring, where you volunteer one hour a week, during school hours. As Lorena, an in-school mentor says “I’ve learned how important I can be to a child and it’s kind of shocking! But it feels so good – the school tells me that Ashley is practically bouncing with excitement waiting for me! Believe me; it’s wonderful for my self esteem too. I have total support from my workplace, which is great. I’m apt to give everything I’ve got to my job but this gives me time for something that means a lot to me, something that provides balance.”

A full listing the ways you can get involved is here.

Ready to help change a life for the better?  Find out where your local Big Brothers Big Sisters is by typing your postal code in here.  Click the volunteer button and you’re on your way!

My grandma is a Big Sister and she can attest to the positive change in the person she mentors. She encouraged her to improve her dietary habits, has watched her improve her grades in school and has seen her transition from foster care back to her biological family.

Want to contribute, but don’t have much time?  Click here and here to make a financial donation to Community Support Connections and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  They’re both non-profit, charitable organizations so a tax receipt will help sweeten the gift.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters are also doing a text to donate campaign where you can donate a minimum of ten dollars to the organization. Text BIGWR (45678) and then text back “yes” when prompted and ten dollars will be automatically billed to your cell phone bill.  

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