Over the past ten years, watching my mother navigate widowhood and aging I had come to realize that the real plague of our age is loneliness. And it is in that context that I went looking for opportunities to expand her circle beyond the network of friends she already had.
I would like to thank you and the staff at Jewish Family Services of Ottawa for the past four years of amazing programming you have offered to my mother. As you know, (because you know everyone who attends and treat them all with so much attention and respect it’s though they are your only clients) she comes to the Wednesday morning Seniors’ Program.
I want to elaborate a little on why this half day program is extraordinary. When I first told my Mom I had found a program at JFS with other senior she told me she did not want to go. She said that the people would be too old and the sessions would be too boring. She assured me that she did not need a day program, she needed a job. She needed to feel productive.
Working with the staff we decided to offer a her a “volunteer position” with the day program. You worked with her to make her feel helpful and productive. She was asked to arrange the chairs, set up coffee and serve. She could even clean up after the session if she wanted to. It was the perfect way to make her feel needed, to make her feel included and to help her relax and enjoy the programming and her peers.
She loves everything about the program and yesterday she told me that one of the best parts is that the staff listen to her ideas for programming. She feels listened to, she feels validated. Honestly, that is the greatest gift one can give a person.
And then COVID hit, but you did not let the program flag. You set up a virtual Social Gathering on Zoom. You moderated it, planned it and ensured once again that everyone could participate. You even offered tablets to people who might not have the technology. How amazing is that?!
And then you took virtual to a whole new level: you have dropped off Care packages! And they are filled with stimulating and challenging activities that Mom is excited to do with us. Puzzles, coloring, workbooks and AN IPOD MINI!!! With headphones and music. How incredible?! You have shown resourcefulness, sensitivity to the needs of this population and imagination, creativity and generosity. I cannot thank you enough on her behalf. Including a laminated picture of the whole group was the icing on the cake. She has introduced us to everyone, more than once now.
Mom says that what she enjoys the most about the Wednesday morning calls with George, Quinn, Katy and Ranit is seeing everyone and keeping in touch. She also loves the singing.
In what Mom characterizes as “These terrible times” it is such a pleasure to have a few hours with friends, feeling good and laughing.
And those workbooks are fun! I cannot remember the last time I got to do a workbook. Not since my grandkids were little. I had forgotten how hard they can be! How clever to send that when we cannot go out! It sure helps to pass the time.
With warm regards and much gratitude, Shereen and Claire