Marie Joss is excited to be going to tea. “It’s for the Queen’s anniversary,” she says. “They’ve made hats in her honour, there’ll be fancy sandwiches, tea – whatever’s British!”
Tea is one of the regular meals and outings that she says give a lift to her and many other seniors. The outings are organized by Good Neighbours Active Living Centre, a United Way agency partner. “You look forward to that day,” she says.
A widow in her 80s, Marie has lived on her own for 15 years, and now makes her home in a seniors complex where many of her fellow residents are housebound. “I see so many people here that lock themselves in, especially if they don’t have family to come and visit them.”
After several difficult years seeing her mother become bedridden and melancholy in a nursing home, Marie was determined to stay active and connected. “As soon as I could, I joined Good Neighbours. They pick us up, every Thursday we have a meal program, and other days we have outings. This summer we had a community barbeque, and we went to the Forks the other day!”
Outings are just some of the services Good Neighbours provides that address physical, social, intellectual and spiritual needs of seniors. Through funding from United Way, they do outreach to seniors who are at risk of social isolation, and help overcome barriers to getting out like limited finances, transportation and mobility issues. “I’m not as mobile as I was,” Marie laughs. “But I like to say I’m still just a recycled teenager!”
In the end, she says, their programs help show that you don’t have to be locked in a shell. “Good Neighbours is open so that anyone can go.”