Abbotsford serving seniors in community

The Snow Go program provides assistance to seniors in snow shovelling their sidewalks and steps in winter. Abbotsford helps arrange the service. Photo: Pat Goyeche

By Julie Ireton

After too many months of isolation from friends and family, of shutdowns and lockdowns and trying to figure out Zoom, Ottawa seniors are more than ready to be back socializing at their seniors’ centre across from Lansdowne Park.

“They’re ecstatic – some are almost moved to tears to be back and see people again,” said Kirsten O’Brien from the community support services department of Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre.

“There’s happiness just to be able to see friends, even at a distance and with masks. There’s a reconnecting and a real sense of community again.”

Visitors to Abbotsford must show that they’ve been double vaccinated, and fitness classes have fewer people. Weather permitting, some activities are being moved outside this fall. But the doors are open and people are returning.

“They are really enjoying contact and interaction,” said Pat Goyeche, coordinator of community programs. “The Sing ’n Jam club is singing and playing their hearts out on our patio, and the two ping-pong tables are getting a good workout on Friday mornings. We’ve even been able to rent larger spaces off site though a special grant, which has allowed us to serve more folks safely. These pop-up fitness classes have been very popular.”

For clients who live alone or don’t have family nearby, Abbotsford and its activities, support groups, fitness classes and clubs can be a lifeline, according to O’Brien.

“They are so willing to comply with all the safety measures, because the draw to see each other is so special and important,” she said.

Abbotsford continued to offer transportation to medical appointments during the pandemic. And when the snow starts to fly, a city program to help some seniors with snow removal will also be available.

Snow Go

The Snow Go Assist program will refer low-income people over 60 and those with disabilities to contractors who have passed a screening test, are properly registered and insured. Clients will be reimbursed up to $250 on the cost of their snow removal for the season.

Low income is defined by the city as a single person who lives on $31,500 a year or $39,200 for a household of two or more.

“If the person meets eligibility and provides documentation, they can qualify,” said O’Brien.

Abbotsford is also continuing to support clients at home with phone and virtual programs, including many fitness classes that continue to be available online through Zoom. Still, many members yearn for the day when there are even more activities available inside the centre.

“We get asked: When can we loiter again? When can we play bridge again?” said Goyeche. “Our goal is to expand as it is safe to do so and add more in-person programming.”

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre for adults 55+. It houses the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit organization which includes a 254-bed long-term care home. Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., by calling 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Julie Ireton is a journalist who contributes regularly to the Glebe Report on issues affecting Abbotsford.

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