NOTL is getting a new outreach program to help lonely seniors, thanks to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Legion Branch 124.
The Seniors Volunteer Outreach Program, aimed at combating social isolation among NOTL seniors, will connect people 65 and older, not just Legion members, with volunteers who can provide support when needed.
“Our goal is to assist seniors’ needs in our community, not just in our branch, as they relate to socialization,” office manager and committee chair Elizabeth Richards said.
Funding for the program is provided by the New Horizons Seniors Program, with a government grant of up to $25,000 for community-based projects focused on making a difference in the lives of seniors.
The Legion is surveying the community in hopes to better assess the needs of seniors in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Richards said she is focused on jumpstarting the program by using that information to help tailor services to residents in need and gathering volunteers.
Senior residents or those supporting seniors who could benefit from this program are encouraged to visit the Branch 124 website and fill out the survey. The survey asks for feedback from residents on what resources would make the most impact in their lives.
Some suggestions include online safety courses, art classes, assistive technology information and grounds maintenance. Richards said she hopes this dialogue will help the outreach program better allocate money because it’s not just about the committee’s view of what this project looks like.
Residents interested in volunteering their time to the program can fill out a volunteer information sheet on the Legion website or call the branch at 905-468-2353.
The Legion is hoping the volunteer committee will be able to build and foster long-lasting relationships between seniors, the branch and the local community, Richards said.
“Physically we have a membership of like 269. I’m sure there’s some of those guys that want to be involved,” she said, but encourages anyone who can help to sign up.
Recognizing that NOTL has many helpful connections and programs that could already benefit seniors, Richards said she doesn’t want to “reinvent the wheel.”
Making smart partnerships and connecting people with resources that may already exist in Niagara-on-the-Lake is how this committee will make sure they are budgeting effectively, she said.
Legion president Paul Eramian said the branch applied for the grant to take on the project in hopes of giving back to the community.
“The community always showed up for functions pre-COVID and support our fish fry,” Eramian said. “I have no problem giving back or doing something with a little extra work.”
“Why not? Why not try to help, because I’m sure there’s many in our community that this would be a godsend for. A little bit of something is a lot better than a whole lot of nothing,” he said.
The Legion’s mission is to serve veterans and their dependents, promote remembrance and act in the service of Canada and its community.