I met Allan many months ago, when he accompanied his friend Patsy to my office. At the time, Patsy was providing housecleaning services on a part-time contract basis for Quesnel Better at Home. Allan overheard me telling Patsy how I needed more male helpers to do the yard work, and Allan decided then that he would also volunteer with Better at Home. Allan had heart problems in the past and knew he needed to become more active, so this opportunity seemed perfect for him.
Allan explained that he was not a people person, however. He assured he was a hard worker and would be happy to get a list of yards that needed mowing, although he was only interested in settings where contact with people was minimal.
Once Allan had his criminal record cleared, I contacted him about the 4 hours/week of yard work he had agreed to do. During the conversation, I mentioned that I had a long list of yards that needed mowing, so Allan asked me to send him as many as I had.
Our list of yards to maintain kept growing as my client base reached close to 200 clients. This meant Allan just kept getting busier. He finally called me one day to discuss his workload and indicated that he would like to squeeze his volunteering work into 3 full days a week. As I smiled to myself, we agreed to the 3 day term. This is a lot to ask of any volunteer, especially of someone who is a senior himself; Allan is 64!
To date Allan has logged 162 hours of yard maintenance and loves what he does. My clients have all called in and want him back. They say that he is a charming and “moves like a house on fire”.
Meanwhile, I started a new process of creating a weekly job board, and emailing the jobs out to all my volunteers. Allan called after receiving the email and said he could take on some odd repair jobs. Besides the 11+ yards he maintains per week, he now does window and gutter cleaning too!
I ran into Allan’s friend Patsy at the grocery store one day and she shared how happy Allan is to be doing what he does. He tells her about all the wonderful seniors he has met and how much he truly cares for them. He feels that he has purpose now.
Allan is an inspiration and a true testament of someone who has stepped outside his comfort zone to help other people. In the process, he has found a place for himself in the hearts of the many seniors he helps on a weekly basis. I am so pleased with him that I plan on nominating him for the “Volunteer of the Year” award in Quesnel , BC
Allan is a delight to work with; we are so lucky to have him.
*Stock photo – Transporting seniors
Simple transportation is a steady roadblock and many B.C. seniors don’t know where to turn to get help. It’s all the more challenging in a quaint yet widespread area, like Maple Ridge and its surrounding communities. This persistent problem also endures throughout the province, yet Better at Home’s volunteer transportation efforts aim to support seniors’ independence.
Maple Ridge was a pilot community for CASI in 2009 and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services housed the much needed program. When the success of CASI led to Better at Home in 2010, many seniors seamlessly transitioned their services and remained supported by Better at Home, with the purpose of living independently at home and connected with community.
When transportation services became available to Maple Ridge seniors, Mary*, a 96-year-old widow was one of the first seniors to sign up. She knew she needed help, and reached out by calling MR/PM Community Services for assistance getting around in her community.
At the time, Mary was living in Pitt Meadows and found the challenges of getting out of her house demanding. Mary couldn’t drive anymore, and was intimidated when faced with the rush of public transit. She was becoming isolated from her community, but that all changed when she signed up for transportation services in 2009.
Since 2010 however, Mary has developed dementia. Recently her condition progressed considerably, and living alone at home started to become dangerous.
When Mary was admitted to the hospital due to a dementia-induced incident, her family tried to encourage her to move into a long-term care facility. Mary was distressed and wanted to know what Diana Vivian, Better at Home Program Coordinator, would think of the move. Although they had only ever spoken by phone, Mary and Diana have a mutual admiration and respect, developed throughout the years that Diana helped Mary regain her mobility and independence.
Mary’s family invited Diana to the hospital to speak with Mary. When Diana walked in the room and spoke, Mary’s face lit up.”Oh, I know who you are!” She recognized the voice of the woman who had helped connect her to transportation and the community time and time again.
Mary was afraid she would not be eligible for Better at Home services when she moved and perhaps as worrying, lose contact with Diana. Diana promised that Maple Ridge Better at Home would continue to support her even after the move. “That moment demonstrated to me how important our program can be to a senior when it comes to their independence and how the smallest gesture can mean so much for that person,” Diana said.
After Mary left the hospital, her son contacted Diana to let her know that Mary agreed to move out of her house. Diana’s words and actions had given Mary encouragement and comfort, and the reassurance that her connection to Better at Home and the community would remain the same despite the huge life change. Diana had given Mary peace of mind that Better at Home would continue to support her if she still needed the services, even if she changes where she calls home.
Mary is now settling into her new home in a long-term care facility in the Ridge Meadows area, and her family is interested in matching Mary with a friendly visitor through Maple Ridge Better at Home. Better at Home continues to be a huge support in Mary’s life.
She and the children have expressed great gratitude to Diana for her caring heart, and to the Better at Home program for their devoted support to seniors.
*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of Better at Home clients