“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke those words in 1957, a message that continues today to impart that a spirit of volunteerism is necessary to empower individuals and strengthen communities through participation, especially in support of one another in our times of need.
It’s precisely the kind of message upheld by North Shore Community Resources (NSCR), a registered charity established in 1976 as a volunteer-run non-profit by local residents, who recognized the need to facilitate companionship and connection for its North Shore neighbours.
Today, volunteer engagement continues to be the heart of the organization through its various programs, to participate in social connections and the welfare of others.
Better at Home enriches seniors’ lives
The NSCR Better at Home program is designed to enhance seniors’ well-being and independence by providing non-medical services. Volunteers take on assignments such as, transportation to medical appointments, grocery and prescription pick-up and delivery, minor home repairs, light yard work, and friendly visiting, which all help to alleviate daily pressures, and lighten a senior’s physical and emotional burdens.
“Empowering seniors to stay in their own homes with some small but helpful supports is what we do,” says Nicola Harris, Better at Home lead. “It’s really important because there’s a lot of seniors and even low-income seniors on the North Shore who can benefit from grocery shopping support, friendly visiting, or other needs, especially transportation.”
The North Shore Better at Home program is open to North Shore residents 65 years plus, or who are between 55-64 on disability assistance. Eligible residents must be living independently, not in private or publicly subsidized assisted living, or in a long-term care home.
Seniors complete a formal intake assessment to determine program eligibility. Fees apply based on a sliding scale that depends on an individual’s or couple’s annual net income. Friendly visiting is free of charge, and depending on the service requested and the availability of volunteers, eligible residents may be placed on a waitlist.
Volunteering and making a difference
Volunteers provide important support to their neighbours and fellow citizens, helping individuals and North Shore communities to thrive.
Not only does the program provide seniors’ support and services, but Better at Home is a rewarding opportunity for volunteers, making connections that help foster mutually beneficial interactions between generations.
“The biggest benefit of volunteering is building connections with people,” reveals Harris.
“Volunteers often say, it’s fulfilling and enjoyable, and helps to enrich their life.”
The program offers both seniors and volunteers an opportunity to cultivate meaningful relationships. For volunteers, they learn from a senior’s life experiences, and benefit from the personal satisfaction derived from community service.
For seniors, friendly visiting provides a sense of connection and the appreciation of contributing to society through sharing their wisdom and stories with a new friend.
“Seniors have expressed they’re thankful and grateful for a volunteer’s kindness of heart and service,” says Harris.
Volunteers have specific attributes that make them a good fit for the program, Harris explains. Empathy is necessary and understanding of a senior’s situation, for example, they might be hearing impaired or have health issues.
“If you don’t get a good response one day from somebody, don’t take it personally. It’s important to be patient and understanding.”
“We’re not asking people for a long-term commitment, we’re just asking for whatever they can give,” admits Harris. “There’s flexibility in the schedule; we send out the requests to volunteers and whoever can fit in that request then takes it.”
For more information, visit seniors.nscr.ca, or call 604.982.3313.