George quit school when he was 14 and went to work. At 65, he wrapped his working life as a janitor at Burnaby’s Metrotown mall. After a lifetime of purpose, George found himself retired and on a fixed income. While he could get by financially, he was isolated. For seniors, social isolation is a real concern, because loneliness can be just as hazardous to their health as smoking.
For George, the life-saving connection happened when a neighbour told him about a United Way Active Aging Program in Burnaby. The program pairs seniors who are isolated by language, financial and mobility barriers with other seniors and volunteers. Now, Wednesdays and Fridays, George learns line dancing and enjoys a hot meal. Most importantly, he makes friends. “I don’t feel alone when I come here. I feel welcomed. I feel love,” George says.
That is also where George met sisters, Christina and Cyrena – life-long volunteers who found themselves at loose ends after retiring – sisters who were driven to give back locally. “You want to put time to use,” says Cyrena. “I find that you can only watch so many game shows. You have to do something. You have to be engaged in someone.”
The sisters are showing us all what local love can do: improve the communities we call home. And it has made a real difference. “This is the first time that somebody has bought me a cake for my birthday. In my life,” George says. Now George is showing his own local love… sharing his skills at needlepoint and making dreamcatchers with others.
Sadly, over 25,000 local seniors say they don’t have anyone to talk to. You can give more seniors like George the chance to not just survive, but also come alive.
Unleash your local love.