Who are the Community Pillars in Old Ottawa South? They are the three churches, Trinity Anglican, Wesleyan and Southminster United, the Sunnyside Library, Abbotsford House, the Community Association, our City Councillor, MPP and MP. Organizations and political elements that have been here “forever.” As a watchdog for seniors, Senior Watch Old Ottawa South (SWOOS) organized a meeting on May 28, 2020 on ZOOM to share and learn with one another outreach efforts and resources for seniors in Old Ottawa South living under COVID-19 distancing and isolation restrictions. Here is what we learned:
All three churches offer not only religious services on Zoom and on Facebook, but also continue with choirs, bible studies and coffee socials using virtual technology. Within the churches, church leaders and other members help parishioners get connected to technology or, if they prefer, help to participate by phone. In all three churches there are outreach efforts to individual parishioners. Southminster United Church even developed a loosely structured “telephone tree” to reach all their parishioners to provide, but also receive support. Special attention is paid to the recently bereaved and other vulnerable people. Heather Maclachlan of Trinity Anglican Church talked about the now well publicized, New Horizon’s funded program for all seniors in our community “Reaching Seniors in Old Ottawa South” (RSOOS). One initiative of this program is a meal delivery program. Each delivery is followed by a call to ensure all is well. On Tuesday, June 16, RSOOS launches its first ZOOM “Speaker Series” meeting. The first of an ongoing series, every Tuesday from 10:00 to 11:30 am is a “Meet and Greet.” Share your ideas for speakers and hear about what has already been arranged. To receive your invitation please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or phone 613-733-7536.
Christy Savage, Executive Director of the Ottawa South Community Association (OSCA) talked about the well known and well used virtual presence on OSCA’s website that includes not only programming for young and old, but also important resource information on local businesses and updates from Ottawa Public Health and the Council On Aging. Initially, OSCA staff reached out to the seniors they could identify in their registration system, checked how they were doing and, if needed, connected them with resources: https://oldottawasouth.ca/resources/item/6932-information-and-resources-for-seniors
Kelly Sirett from the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library filled us in about all the resources the OPL offers called “Aging Well Together.” Have a look and you will be surprised by the wonderful variety! When the OPL had to close its doors, and return bins, late fines were immediately frozen. The OPL can be contacted by phone at 613-580-2940 and connect you to bilingual staff at the InfoService department. Staff will also help members by phone to gain access to online Library services (e-books, digital audiobooks, online programs).
Karen Anne Blakely of Abbotsford House explained that this mostly Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) funded centre supports over 1100 seniors. Some people in their catchment area like support in the form of regular phone calls, others depend on delivery of groceries and masks, arrangement of services and drives to medical appointments. Abbotsford House also provides programming on ZOOM, YouTube channels and a phone-based platform called Senior Centre Without Walls: https://glebecentre.ca/programs-and-support-services/
Students in the READi program at Carleton University, Dawson Clarke and Neda Fayazi, described their investigation that addresses “Social Barriers for Seniors Living in Old Ottawa South in Response to COVID-19 Limitations.” It is hoped that the results of the study will shed light on the challenges seniors currently face and might face again when physically/socially isolated, such as happens in wintertime.
Miles Krauter, representing our Councillor Shawn Menard, and Joel Harden our MPP and the official opposition critic for seniors, accessibility and persons with disabilities and pensions, both commented that they found it helpful to learn at this meeting the resources that are available for seniors and other vulnerable persons. Some of these resources would be added to their websites.
Even though the ad hoc group of Community Pillars for Seniors does not intend to meet on a regular basis, participants were motivated to meet again as the need arises.
Anna Cuylits is a member of the OSCA Board and Senior Watch Old Ottawa South (SWOOS).
Phone numbers and links to useful resources:
MPP Joel Harden
Ottawa Public Health
The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre
A Friendly Voice
613-692-9992 or 1-855-892 9992
Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region
This article will appear in the July-August 2020 edition of the OSCAR.