Orangeville Senior Centre receives new funding

March 11, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Orangeville & District Senior Citizen Centre has received a federal grant to help connect local seniors facing isolation with new technology.

Pat Elmore, administrator at the local senior centre, said they received a $25,000 grant, through the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), last week and added that the funding will go towards a cyber seniors program called Get Connected.

With the new grant, Orangeville and District Senior Citizen Centre will be able to purchase a number of tablets and laptops for members to use and connect online. The plan is to create a computer lab or spaced out “pod” style area said Elmore for the members to go in and utilize online services as well as take the tablets out on loan.

“We’ll have volunteers that work one-on-one, to show them how to use it, how to access Skype or FaceTime family, how to send an email, or access online senior programming, those sorts of things,” explained Elmore.

“The idea is to get more seniors connected to the internet and more seniors able to access technology, and the services that are out there online, so they’re not isolated and to stop isolation for older adults.”

Last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, the local senior centre was forced to close for several months.

“They had nowhere to go, they had no interaction, no socialization. A lot of people would come in here three or four times a week for programming and they just had nothing, it just dropped dead,” said Elmore. “It was pretty difficult for a lot of them, it still is very difficult because they’re still not coming up or they can’t because we’re still restricted.”

During the forced closed, the senior centre found that a large percentage of their members didn’t have access to internet or technology to access services and programs while isolated.

“We did a survey in the summer and found that 52% of our 520 members did not have any online technology at home, they had the telephone and TV and that was it,” said Elmore. “That’s why we felt this is a dire need, as soon as we shut down, we had no programming and they were just stuck.”

Elmore noted that the pandemic has revealed a number of gaps in services for seniors

“If we can at least teach some of them and go from there, if this continues, we can offer more programs to seniors that are online if they are able to get online.”

Orangeville & District Senior Citizen Centre has also received additional funding of $54,014.41 from the provincial government for 2020-21 that will go towards maintenance and operating costs as well as other projects. 

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