By Andrew McCutcheon
We’re getting closer to the end of our journey here: 50 stories for 50 weeks, celebrating our 50th anniversary, all searching for an answer to the question: What is Kerby Centre?
I’ve talked and written about a lot of folks that help make us who we are: whether it’s our frontline staff to our excellent management, our beyond incredible volunteers, or the clients and members themselves who form our Kerby Community.
But Unison at Kerby Centre often involves two other extremely important groups — without whom we’d never be able to achieve our goal of ensuring seniors can live vibrant lives as they age.
I’ll be covering one of these groups this week, and the other the next; not in any order of importance, because no single person or group makes Kerby Centre as successful as we are: it’s a huge team effort.
And what is a team without its partners.
Cementing partnerships has always been an important part of our strategy. No person is an island, and the same is true for non-for-profit organizations.
But what exactly is a partnership?
We like to think of it as a mutually beneficial team-up: like when Iron Man and Captain America come together to beat the bad guys.
We might have different strengths and skills, but we all have similar or overlapping goals.
I’m going to mention a few of the partnerships we have in this story, but know that for every one I mention, there are dozens more that wouldn’t fit. I could write an entire piece just listing off every single one and it’d be as long as War and Peace.
But first, let’s talk about Second Harvest.
Second Harvest is an organization that rescues food: from places like bakeries, grocery stores or cafés. They take good, fresh food that might otherwise go in the bin because it’s a day or two old.
They help collect this food and ensure it doesn’t go to waste. We’ve partnered with them to help ensure our Free Food Markets — where we give out packages of staples and treats to vulnerable seniors — have enough.
What a perfect, win-win situation: Second Harvest gets to prevent food from being tossed in the trash and we get to give out healthy, tummy-filling meals to those who need them most.
And that’s nothing to say of our local partners directly with grocery stores and cafés, as well as with the Calgary Food Bank! Everyone comes together to make miracles happen.
As for another partnership, let’s talk about staying active.
We know winter is coming soon, whether we like it or not. How can we ensure our older adults have the chance to stay connected and stay fit when they might have mobility issues at the best of times — let alone when there is a foot of snow on the ground?
Not to worry. We have Sarah Allen and Rec@home.
“We developed the Rec@home program so that people living in the community, —50+, potentially with mobility concerns — can enjoy leisure and recreation from the comforts of home via Zoom,” said Allen in an interview with us.
“It focuses on improving physical, emotional, mental and social well-being through recreational activities and eliminating physical barriers.”
What does that mean? It means Allen hosts a variety of fun programming online for folks just like yourself, all to make having fun and getting to know other people as easy as possible.
There’s physical recreation, quiz shows, cognitive games, and even something called a home scavenger hunt — you’ll have to check out our YouTube channel for the full interview to see what that entails!
But the whole point is to give people excitement and social connection by removing barriers.
“Anything I can do in person, I can do online,” said Allen, who has a background in therapeutic recreation. “We want to eliminate the physical barriers.”
And as for the technological barriers? Allen said you’d be surprised how easy folks find it to get on and enjoy themselves.
“A lot of people think of when they go into a zoom program, it’s like a webinar; they sit and they watch and they’re bored,” she said. “It’s interactive as possible, I wanted to get people up and out of their chairs!”
And folks absolutely adore it. Allen said that folks who try it once, always come back, and some even have made friendships outside of the program: having social calls or coffee.
But the most exciting moment since Allen has started facilitating the program was when she had an in-person picnic, just so the whole group could manage to meet up face-to-face — even if it was just once a year.
“It was the first time in my career I got to just stand-back and watch and everybody, these people who had never met before in person, they were so happy to meet and sing and hug,” Allen said. “They were so tight and, you know when you get those hugs where you just feel loved? That’s what it was.”
We’re beyond lucky to have Sarah, the BSF, Second Harvest and so many more partnerships that help make us succeed. Because our success means happier, healthier seniors.
And when we work together, everybody wins: who could ask for more?