Gabriolan seniors and families will soon have another helping hand in negotiating their way in the world when People for a Healthy Community (PHC) opens a new Community Resource Centre.
Resource centre Coordinator Maggie Mooney, who also coordinates PHC’s Circle of Care program, said in a Wednesday press release that the centre will provide “services to seniors, families and individuals living on Gabriola”.
“Services for Gabriola seniors”, Mooney said, “will include an information ‘hotline’ to connect seniors with supports on Gabriola, in Nanaimo, and the rest of British Columbia. The aim is to help seniors access all the resources they deserve and qualify for, including: Shelter Aid for Elderly Residents grants for housing, guaranteed income supplements, Vancouver Island Health Authority services, respite care, and free or low-cost income tax services”.
“Services for families and individuals”, Mooney said, “will include free and low-cost professional counselling services, prenatal education and parenting groups, information-sharing talks, film nights, and a small meeting space for local groups. PHC’s Circle of Care program will also be run from the new centre”.
The idea for the resource centre came out of community consultation, Mooney said. “PHC received funds from the Vancouver Foundation and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union to investigate how to best support Gabriola’s most vulnerable community members. PHC hired local consultant Sandra Thomson to scope out Gabriola’s needs for other social service programs. The extensive report (available on www.phc-gabriola.org) identified gaps in services for families and parents (prenatal and parenting education classes, etc.), and specific support for people in crisis, isolated, or simply seeking someone to talk to. The concept of a Circle of Care program was explored as the base of the report findings. Also identified was the need to link Gabriolans with existing services on the island, in Nanaimo, and throughout BC where appropriate”.
“With further funding from United Way Central Vancouver Island and Sisters of Charity”, Mooney said, “PHC hired consultant Maureen Wild to reach out specifically to Gabriola seniors. We identified gaps in service and the need for a place where seniors can phone or go to for the support services they need, whether it is housing, health, or connection related”.
While Mooney is the coordinator at the resource centre, she said it will be staffed by volunteers. “Funding has been generously provided by The Alexandra Foundation, New Horizons for Seniors, The United Way Central Vancouver Island, Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, and by the generous donations of local Gabriolans”, she said.
The centre’s grand opening, to which all are invited, will be on Sept. 22, from 11 am to 2 pm, in their new digs on the ground floor of the Gabriola Professional Centre.
Mooney said that they will run the resource centre out of the Gabriola Professional Centre because PHC has run out of room at their location at the Gabriola Commons. “A lack of space — in particular, accessible space for confidential conversations and for offering information and reviewing resources — limits our ability to serve and contribute further to the development of a strong, healthy, inclusive community on Gabriola”, Mooney said. “We will continue to operate the Food Bank, soup socials, community garden projects, social enterprise development and administrative functions from our current space at The Commons”.
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