TAMMY MINAHAM PHOTO Volunteers help rake leaves for seniors with the Better at Home Program last fall.

Better At Home needs Volunteers this spirng

The Side-by-Side with seniors program aims to help seniors tackle yard work

Yard work can be a very difficult task for seniors living at home.

With spring fast approaching, the Better at Home program (BAH), run through the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre Society, has a new initiative to make life a little easier for seniors this spring while creating a fun activity for families.

The Side-by-Side with Seniors program pairs up families or individuals with a senior in their neighbourhood or community that needs yard care service.

“Yard work is such a huge need for our seniors,” said BAH Coordinator Tammy Minihan, adding, “Lots of them live in towns with bylaws or trailer parks that have rules saying they have to maintain their lawns and they just aren’t able to do it.”

Minihan said seniors who have mobility issues, balance issues, pain, arthritis, or who have had strokes aren’t able to easily keep up their lawns and it bothers them because, “It is something they take pride in.”

Minihan created the program to tackle the issue for seniors, but also to create a volunteer opportunity families could easily engage in with their children.

“It’s a bonding time for them and their children and they are teaching their children the value of helping people and they are also up keeping their town, their neighbourhoods, their communities, and it’s something they can take pride in,” said Minihan. “The seniors may not be able to mow their lawns, but they may be able to go out there and visit and interact with the kids so there is a social part of it too.”

Minihan said she thinks the program is a win-win for everyone involved, and she added the yard work required isn’t too demanding.

Examples of yard services needed are lawn mowing, weed eating, pulling weeds, or bush cutting, depending on the client’s needs.

“It’s not going to be something people will have to do everyday,” explained Minihan. “It may be once a week, or maybe the weather is not good and you are only going every two weeks.”

Minihan said she already has a long list of senior’s who will need help this spring and needs to engage enough families or individuals who are willing to become a part of the Side-by-Side with Senior’s program.

As she is offering services in Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Port Alice, Sointula, Alert Bay, and the First Nations communities throughout the North Island, Minihan said she is going to need a lot of volunteers.

“I’m really hoping I can engage the community – and say if we had six families participate – well that is six seniors that are being helped out in the communities,” she said, adding, “I feel like it’s a whole community thing and everybody is winning.”

Minihan noted that just knowing the yard work will get done can take a lot of stress off of seniors, and it can also be a very important social visit that seniors who are lonely could look forward too.

“Volunteering does bring us much joy, every time I volunteer to help out our seniors and elders I walk away feeling really great and really connected,” said Minihan.

To join the Side by Side with Seniors Program, contact BAH Coordinator Tammy Minihan at the North Island Crisis and Counselling Society at 250-949-8333 or email tammym@niccs.org.

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