(Standing, from left) Brian Roe, general manager of Somerset House; Gary Forsgren, g.m. of Amica at the Gorge; Kim Dixon, executive director of the James Bay New Horizons Centre; (kneeling) John Lioudakis, g.m. of Douglas House, and Ron Gibson, g.m. of Amica Beechwood in Sidney celebrate the donation of a passenger vanthrough Amica’s Helping Hands company wide community charity program. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Helping Hands delivers for city seniors in Greater Victoria

New van, care baskets among the benefits brought to area seniors through Amica program

Everyone appreciates a helping hand now and again.

A group that can sometimes fall through the cracks when it comes to accepting that hand is low-income seniors living independently. Amica Mature Lifestyles, a national company which operates residential seniors communities in Victoria (Douglas House, Somerset House), Sidney (Beechwood) and soon, in Saanich (Amica at the Gorge), recognized that need some years ago.

Amica’s corporate charity, the Helping Hands Community Program, was organized as a non-profit in 2003 and has since reached into communities around Greater Victoria and elsewhere in Canada to support seniors living under the low-income cutoff.

While the company hosts larger events that bring in thousands of dollars for the charity, on the ground it’s largely about seniors helping seniors. Residents at the three complexes do smaller-scale fundraisers and make and contribute items for the care baskets filled with goodies that are delivered to shut-ins.

Brian Roe, general manager of Somerset House on Dallas Road, said at their tuck shop, residents drop off unwanted CDs or cassettes, supply chocolate bars and other necessities to sell, then other residents have the entire day to buy items.

“Usually it’s about $1,000 month we’re able to raise just from a variety of little programs that we put into place,” he said, noting that garage sales the past two summers have brought in even more funds.

Ron Gibson, g.m. of Amica Beechwood, spoke to the feeling residents experience when they get involved in the fundraising program.

“The reaction of our residents when they’re involved … they know they’re doing something special for seniors’ in need and that’s very important to them, as well as it is to us,” he said.

John Lioudakas, g.m. of Douglas House, said his residence generated excitement, laughs and dollars with a staff-dunking contest this year.

While the smaller sales provide seed money for grassroots outreach programs, Helping Hands also makes larger donations, such as the multi-passenger van now being used by the James Bay New Horizons Centre. The vehicle has been put to good use, according to executive director Kim Dixon.

The centre’s Sunday supper program sees 25 “frail isolated seniors” in a rotating list of 90 picked up each week from their homes and brought back to the centre to have dinner.

Other activities include trips to the Parksville sandcastle exhibition and south Island outings, meaning participants can leave the driving to a pair of volunteer drivers, Dixon adds.

“They get to do things that they could probably do on a [transit] bus but it would be a lot harder. And if they get to go with somebody else as a group …”

Parry Place, a nearby seniors residence, also borrows the van on occasion to get people out on similar field trips.

All in all, local seniors in need of a helping hand are gaining a sense of freedom and dignity they may not otherwise have.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Sooke mom hopeful for funding to treat child’s debilitating arthritis

Jillian Lanthier ‘prays’ for $19,000 per-dose drug for her son

BC SPCA proposes fines for animal mistreatment, reduction in commercial trade

Animal welfare group’s ideas brought to Victoria councillors

Trial date delayed in case of slain Oak Bay sisters

Case of Andrew Berry, charged in deaths of daughters, will reconvene in three weeks

School’s on today, more snow expected across Greater Victoria

Environment Canada says more snow could fall Friday

After dark: Sandown construction goes overnight

Noise concerns from Sidney could stop nighttime work schedule

Photo gallery: Show us your Winter Wonderland!

User submitted photos from around Greater Victoria

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

All aboard! Job fair ports this weekend in Victoria

Find out about the hundreds of jobs in Victoria’s cruise ship industry

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Human remains found near Campbell River

Human remains were found in a rural area outside Campbell River, RCMP… Continue reading

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

Tofino Bus will cover Victoria–Nanaimo route after Greyhound announces cut

Although its name says ‘Tofino’, this bus company serves all of Vancouver Island

Most Read