Enhancing one’s ability to contribute to family and community life is part of healthy aging. Seniors have experience, knowledge and skills and deserve the chance to contribute to their community. Engaging older adults in meaningful volunteer opportunities results in improved mental and physical functioning and a lower risk of disease and disease-related disability. This reduces the demand for health care and other support services.
Bridget Currie, program manager at the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors, is a firm believer in offering her seniors a chance to be productive. She has designed many activities that have TAPS seniors giving back to their community — our gentlemen build and paint birdhouses for the College of the Rockies greenhouse, as well as repairing and refinishing furniture for New Life Furniture. The TAPS ladies bake pies for sale, knit blankets for the Kootenai Community Centre Society and make tray decorations for Meals on Wheels. Recently, TAPS members have started volunteering with the Pet Adoption and Welfare Society.
The belief in being productive and making a contribution to one’s community is the basis of the Telus community ambassadors club. TAPS volunteers and seniors are now “friends” of this group. This valuable partnership benefits TAPS by giving our seniors an opportunity to share their skills, be productive and give back to their community.
The East Kootenay Telus community ambassadors club is based in Cranbrook and serves community organizations spanning the area from the Canada-U.S. border north to Golden and the B.C.-Alberta border west to Kootenay Lake. Telus community ambassadors are Telus workers and retirees who are passionate about volunteering and contributing to their communities. The East Kootenay club has a core group of over 20 regular members and many more who help out and volunteer by working at home or assisting at planned activities. “Friends” work on and contribute to the projects the ambassadors currently have in place.
The three projects that TAPS seniors, the Krafty Kronys, the Beehive Quilters and Quilts for Kids groups are currently helping the East Kootenay club with are baby bags, lap blankets for dialysis and chemo patients, and sensory aprons. The Krafty Kronys and the quilters have designed and sewn over 30 sensory aprons for distribution to seniors’ care facilities. These aprons are specifically for those who require something to touch that stimulates their memory. They are works of art that contain bells, zippers, laces, whistles, Velcro and many other things limited only by imagination.
Bridget has committed TAPS seniors to making lap blankets for this project and many seniors are working at home, knitting and crocheting. Christmas bags for Crest View Village are also in the works, with quilters making the bags, TAPS seniors supplying the gifts and Telus ambassadors donating the fabric for this project.
Seniors using their skills, being productive and contributing to their own valuable program — what a win-win situation!
Thank you, East Kootenay Telus ambassadors and our supportive community.
Terry Nowak is an outreach worker with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.