Weaving: connections, stories, community

We celebrated our wonderful volunteers this April at TAPS. “We spared no expense,” said Bridget Currie and Wendy Garland to a gathering of volunteers at TAPS. “We’ve brought in a special team from California as a way of thanking you all”. And so began an afternoon of ‘shenanigans’ playing The Price is Right’ with ‘Bob Barker, Johnny and the Beauties’ along with food, prizes, cheering audiences and laughter. Earlier that week, TAPS and Better at Home volunteers took part in training sessions including information about program policies and procedures and discussions about available resources to support fulfilling their roles. Eileen Fitzpatrick reviewed the Gatekeeper Program. ( A project of the BC Association of Community Response Networks www.bccrns ). This program is for any individual, agency, or community service provider who has regular, ongoing contact with adults as part of their daily routine. The purpose is to inform people about how to spot signs of abuse and neglect, and how to refer the individual for help.

This month we welcomed summer student, Kaden Fellman being supported through the Student Works Program. She is completing her Certificate in Human Resource Services at Selkirk College. She says that she enjoys working with seniors, and has also volunteered at Swan Valley as part of her program. We’re already appreciating her presence at TAPS and glad to have her as part of the team over her 6-week term.

Writing reports is a mandatory administrative task of all who receive grants. Reports serve to demonstrate financial accountability to the funder and the community as well as reinforcing the public’s confidence in the organization. TAPS/VCS recently completed an interim report for a United Way Healthy Aging grant, and as it is fresh in our minds, we wanted to share a benefit of doing reports, sometimes a seemingly onerous task. Requirements differ depending on the funding body, but generally, require statistical /quantitative information to demonstrate the outcomes related to the original plan in addition to anecdotal and self-reflection observations by participants.

It’s this second part that we enjoy doing most, as it reveals individual stories which are our raison d’etre. We want to know and document the benefits that people experience at TAPS, including what worked and how to improve. Taking time to acknowledge there is an opportunity to celebrate what underlies the health and culture of our community. Our TAPS ‘tapestry’ includes participants, family caregivers, family members, friends, staff, volunteers, work experience students, community facilitators, partners, collaborators, summer students and more.

We asked participants the question, “Why do you like TAPS?” below are a few of the responses we received.

• “Being able to come to this program has saved his life” (caregiver)

• “I learn new things and incorporate them into my daily routines at home”

• TAPS is a part of the choices I make to stay active, and the social connections as a part of everything are why I enjoy coming here”

• “Group activities are very important to me…I enjoy life more.”

• “I feel better mentally when I’m active like this, more alert. I wouldn’t do these things on my own, being part of a group is a major reason I come here, to eat together, and to enjoy friendships and activities”.

• “Being picked up and taken home makes it possible for me to join in”.

• “Coming to TAPS is good because I’m afraid I would become a recluse”.

• I was very lonesome before TAPS, now my life is full”.

• “I LOVE volunteering at TAPS, it makes a huge impact on my happiness”

• “Participation by different age groups created an environment for our seniors to share parts of their past and to learn about what children experience now”.

• Students commented that they learned about how seniors have similar issues to them and that surprised them.

• I felt so ridiculous at the beginning of the session and all of a sudden I thought “this is so much fun.” I feel like a child again, it made me feel great all over.”

TAPS operates under the auspices of Valley Community Services. If you are considering making a donation or would like to contribute to our Legacy Endowment Fund please visit www.valley.services or contact the VCS office at 250-428-5547 for more information. For volunteer opportunities or program, inquiries call 250-428-5585 or taps@valley.services.

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