Submitted by Muskoka Seniors
Since its founding in September 1990, Muskoka Seniors has been committed to supporting seniors in living healthy, dynamic, and independent lives through its frozen meal delivery, transportation services, friendship luncheons, income tax support services, and friendly phone calls.
“I think it’s a great organization,” says Verna Stephenson, who has been volunteering with Muskoka Seniors for over 20 years. “They care for the senior in every possible way. They give healthy meals and social experiences. It’s a well-rounded organization.”
Now in 2020, they are working to deepen this client support. Muskoka Seniors has enriched its digital presence by launching Facebook and Instagram accounts, revamping its website, and building its online community through enhanced email communications and virtual meet ups.
“It is with the support of the Muskoka Community Foundation through the Emergency Community Support Fund and in partnership with Well Known that we have been able to develop this extension of our organization,” says Jenn Pfrimmer, Muskoka Seniors executive director. “We are excited to see how these platforms can further enhance how we share information and connect with our clients and community.”
The Muskoka Seniors team will be providing resources on how to use ZOOM to bolster community connection. Some clients, like June Golding, are already regulars on the platform. “I do ZOOM with friends once a week—two in the US and three in Canada. I really enjoy it.”
The goal is to encourage those who are familiar with the tools, and those who have yet to learn the platform, to hop online to feel more connected to the Muskoka Seniors community—which is now over 750 strong—in particular while social distancing measures are in place.
Thirty years ago, visionary founder Peggy Graham (1931-2007) laid the groundwork for where the organization is today. This community has grown enormously since the early days when just 18 people attended the first luncheon in 1997 at Faith Baptist Church. In 2019, Muskoka Seniors served 5,548 meals at their friendship luncheons; 7,934 frozen meals were delivered to 139 different clients. They conducted 7,005 friendly visits and phone calls. Their transportation services provided 7,515 trips in Muskoka and further afield to the GTA.
“Seniors want to stay in their homes as long as they can,” says Paul Stueck, a volunteer who has contributed his time to the transportation program. “When they lose their ability to drive, that’s when the crunch is felt and that’s why Muskoka Seniors is so helpful.”
Lynda Irwin has volunteered with the organization for about 12 years. While Lynda was primarily involved in the luncheon events, which are on hold as a result of the pandemic, she sees tremendous value in all of the services that Muskoka Seniors offers, but transportation in particular: “Some couples have one driver in the household, and if the driver needs to get to and from an appointment, this service is really valuable.”
Volunteers like Verna, Paul, and Lynda have played a pivotal role in the organization’s success—in 2019, volunteers contributed 14,140 hours to the organization. For many years, Muskoka Seniors has honoured its volunteers with an Appreciation Gala. Like everything else in 2020, this year’s acknowledgement will look different. But the celebratory spirit honouring 30 years on the September 30 will be nonetheless lively. It will be a drive-through event where Muskoka Seniors will hand out a small appreciation gift to each volunteer—they’ll be sure to post some highlights to their new Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“Our volunteers are the reason why Muskoka Seniors is able to provide the level of service it does to our senior community,” says Jenn. “Their contributions are incredibly valuable, and we feel this event will be a nice way to acknowledge each of them.”
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