Connecting seniors with social agencies

The Seniors Outreach Services Society is one of the Okanagan’s largest seniors agencies.

A local non-profit supplies seniors with housing information, services directories, non-medical in-home services, tax preparation and more.

Founded in 1987, the Seniors Outreach Services Society (also known as the Seniors Outreach and Resource Centre) is one of the Okanagan’s largest seniors agencies, with a variety of programs to serve seniors’ needs.

“On our website, we have a publication called the Elder Guide,” said Judy Dow, regional coordinator for the Better at Home program.

“It’s a directory of services for seniors in the Kelowna area. We also help people with their housing needs—there’s a housing directory on the website.”

Dow notes that Seniors Outreach is the Okanagan’s lead agency for the Better at Home program, a provincial government initiative that supplies seniors with non-medical services in their homes.

“Both contractors and volunteers provide services,” Dow added. “Some of the services include light housekeeping, light yard work, snow shoveling, minor home repairs, grocery shopping, transportation to appointments and friendly visits.”

Kristin Stratulat, volunteer coordinator, notes that the society also offers social time, income tax services and even tech support for seniors.

“Every Wednesday at 10 a.m. is our Coffee Break. It’s a casual opportunity for seniors to get out and find a sense of community,” Stratulat described.

“We also have our Eldernet program every Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. Seniors drop in with their tablets, laptops and iPhones and we have volunteers who work in the IT industry walk them through using their technology.”

Vi Sorenson, the organization’s executive director, says that Coffee Break is among Seniors Outreach’s most popular programs.

“We started it at least eight or 10 years ago. It’s a great chance to meet with other people in the community,” Sorenson explained.“Once per month we have a speaker doing presentations on topics seniors want to hear about.”

Low-income seniors can also access free income tax preparation through the organization.

Sorenson also notes that the society has a strong network of partner organizations and can help seniors navigate the social support system.

“We accept referrals from and make referrals to Interior Health, including for mental health issues,” she said.

“We also collaborate with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Kelowna Women’s Shelter.”

Sorenson says that every month, the society hosts an informational session about housing for seniors. The society is also just starting a weekly seminar series on planning for the future.

The series will include presentations on trusts, wills, power of attorney, retirement benefits, pensions and more. Afterward, the society will provide an educational session on online safety.

The society’s annual Senior Safety Fair will enter its 12th year in 2016 and will feature presentations and exhibitors around the topic of safety.

Sorenson notes that it’s a great way to learn what services are available for seniors.

She says that as a volunteer organization, Seniors Outreach is always looking for tax experts, handymen, tech mentors and friendly visitors to serve the senior community.

Those who want to volunteer can contact Seniors Outreach by phone at (250) 861-6180 or by email at senior@telus.net.

 

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