While life’s challenges are often overwhelming, sometimes we can get by with a little help from our friends. And family. And neighbourhood family resource centre.
Over the years, Annette, 75, has lost all seven of her sisters. Some were older than she, some younger. She also lost her beloved husband in 2012.
“He was 75 when he died, but he always thought he’d die at 65,” Annette said. “But I told him, you’re not dying. You can’t leave me. Later though, I could see he was having a hard time, so I said, ‘Okay, you can go now. I’ll let you go.’”
Despite the immense loss and sadness she experienced in her life, Annette has found strength and comfort in the company of family and friends.
Annette is a regular at South Winnipeg Family Information Centre (SWFIC) in East Fort Garry. She attends SWFIC’s Seniors Connecting program every Wednesday, along with a group of friends from the nearby retirement home where she resides.
“Some of them are lonely and depressed, so I try to get them out.”
Annette’s granddaughter, Nyki also attends a SWFIC program with Annette's great-grandson, Saeran.
SWFIC is one of 24 family resource centres that receive funding from United Way Winnipeg donors as an agency partner.
“The centre attracts a variety of people,” said Tricia Robinson, Executive Director. “Some who live closer come on foot; others drive.”
While most of Annette’s group live close to SWFIC, one friend rides her bicycle to the centre from her residence near the University of Manitoba, even in the winter months.
Annette describes her experience at SWFIC as “uplifting.” She brings her creativity and talent to the Seniors Connecting program, and sometimes brings in her homemade bannock to share.
“I get to meet new people; do arts and crafts, painting, and poetry,” she said.
Annette’s granddaughter, Nyki also attends a SWFIC program with her son, Saeran, Annette’s great-grandson. Every Thursday, they participate in the Stay & Play program where parents/caregivers and children (ages one to five) enjoy playtime, snacks, and social interaction.
In addition to Seniors Connecting and Stay & Play, some of the free drop-in resources the centre provides are Wiggle, Giggle & Munch; Baby & Me; and Living Well.
SWFIC also offers community programs and services like parenting support, life skills for youth, and a program called The Clothes Closet, which provides work-appropriate clothing to women in need.
SWFIC’s raison d’être is to empower people to enhance their relationships within their families and community.
Nyki remarked on the positive impact of the Seniors Connecting program in her grandmother, Annette’s life.
“She loves coming to this place,” Nyki said. “It gives her a sense of belonging.”
Annette and her friends enjoy their time at SWFIC so much that they often don’t want to leave.
“Sometimes they have to kick us out,” Annette joked. “They supply the snacks, and we bring the sweet!”