Advocacy growth

Seniors have a voice in their community and in B.C.

It is wonderful to see how far advocacy for seniors in the South Cariboo has come in a few short years.

Not so many years ago, there was no official voice or organization in 100 Mile House and area that was providing advocacy for seniors.

It was a bit of a surprise because grey power numbers were growing while issues and regulatory changes were popping up as the Baby Boomers drew nearer to retirement.

However, that lack of advocacy changed significantly after District of 100 Mile House Councillor Ralph Fossum came back from an information session at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention and Annual General Meeting.

At the first council meeting after the AGM, he talked about some free money ($20,000) that was available for groups that wanted to make their communities more age-friendly.

There was some discussion and it was agreed Fossum should gather more information and find a group that would be willing to take on an age-friendly project and write a proposal and an application for funding.

That’s when the South Cariboo Community Planning Council (SCCPC) picked up the torch and filled out the proposal and application with support from the District and got it in just before the deadline.

The SCCPC was successful in its bid and then the work began to build the foundation for the South Cariboo AGE-FRIENDLY Initiative.

The first step involved the gathering of information. Organizers knew they had to set up lines of communication to find out what local seniors saw as issues and concerns, where they were having problems and what they would like to see in terms of services.

Meetings were held, surveys were conducted and compiled, and a report was completed.

The logical step was getting seniors to come gather together to work on an action plan.

Fortunately, there was a second round of funding for another $20,000 and the SCCPC was able to collect that funding.

The new goal was to find a way to bring seniors together so they could socialize, enjoy outings and receive new information.

The gatherings quickly grew in popularity and the numbers increased with each outing, which have included an education component with the fun/physical exercise.

So, it was great to see a large crowd of seniors attend the meeting with provincial Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie in 100 Mile House on June 20.

This was a meeting of great interest to the seniors and they all learned something to make their lives a little easier – financially and emotionally.

Mackenzie and Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett gave open invitations to contact their offices for specific problems.

After the meeting, folks talked in groups – both large and small – there was a new understanding and hope in their eyes.

100 Mile House Free Press

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