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ESCC Project Updates

                      February 14, 2014

Valentine’s Day 2014

By now you likely have heard that our Communications Coordinator Rich Gossen will be retiring at the end of March. Around our staff lunch room table Rich and many members of our shared services office (staff of the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and the Association of Services for Children and Families) have talked about his decision to end his work career. We’ve grown as an organization in the six years he has worked here and we are grateful for his contributions here and in the sector.

I note that Rich isn’t the only person to announce his retirement as David Loper, SAGE’s  Communications Director, retired after six years with their organization (and prior to that two years with ESCC) and  Jeff Allen at Strathcona Place Seniors Centre will be stepping down this year after 41 years of service!  Collectively these three gentlemen have made tremendous contributions to senior services in Edmonton and we wish them well.

It’s a reminder to all of us that many managers in our sector are close to an age and stage in their careers when they are pondering change. And it’s not just happening in our sector, it is in the not-for-profit sector in general. Succession planning will be very important for agencies that are in this position. Ultimately the boards will take an important role in guiding organizations through transition periods. ESCC’s board has been discussing this for many months now and we are making some efforts to develop support in the form of mentors that can be called upon to work directly with member boards. These mentors could be recent retirees from business or government or skilled board development facilitators who formerly volunteered (or worked) with the Board Development Program.

ESCC is motivated by the belief that many men and women who are approaching retirement would appreciate the opportunity to give back to their community by offering their expertise to the boards of charities and non-profits.  We will be asking for your input on the kinds of support that would be appreciated. Stay tuned.

Enhanced Telephone Line for Information and Referral

The Support Network’s 211 telephone line has been working with ESCC, member agencies and stakeholders for over one year now to create some enhancements to the line in an effort to be more responsive to the needs of seniors. Since December 2nd, 2013 the telephone operators have been implementing all the changes and reporting back to an advisory group about how things are working. A few adjustments have been made and now we are planning to promote this enhanced line and have a launch event to increase awareness. Funding for this work has come from Age-Friendly Edmonton. You will soon be receiving some promotional tools that will help your agency understand the telephone line and help promote its use to seniors, their families and all those that provide support to Edmonton’s older adults.

Seniors Snow Removal Coordination Project

Agencies that connect seniors to snow removal providers are going through their statistics of service for recent years in an effort to illustrate demand. This will help to inform efforts to coordinate service.

Currently in the not-for-profit senior sector there are six organizations that provide assistance in this area: Westend Seniors Activity Centre; Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton; Society of Seniors Caring About Seniors; Lifestyle Helping Hands Seniors Association, Jewish Family Services and South East Edmonton Seniors Association. These organizations along with other stakeholders meet regularly to examine ways to meet increasing demand for service. Our hope is that service enhancements can take place prior to October 2014.

Creative Age Edmonton

Jana O’Connor has accepted a contract from Creative Age Edmonton to organize an orientation session for professional artists to support a connection to Edmonton seniors. This session will take place Saturday March 15th, location t.b.a.  From this session the intent is to provide some networking opportunities for these artists to connect with organizations that may have an interest in hosting a short-term residency.  If you would like more information about this please contact Jana at her e-mail

Dates for the Creative Age Festival for 2014 are June 2-8. Plans include an Arts Café at Northgate Lions, lots of performances and workshops at the Timm’s Centre and a special celebration of creativity at The Churchill downtown. More information will be available soon on the website

Outreach Project

At a January Steering Committee meeting the purpose of outreach was simplified to state: improve the accessibility of services to seniors. In further review of the intake and assessment tools and the key that accompanied the forms, it was decided to integrate the documents. This will allow for the creation of key information about the issue, suggested questions and resources.

Issues covered will be activities of daily living, food security, housing, physical health, transportation, financial and legal, caregiving, grief and loss, mental health, addictions, elder abuse, support system, cultural diversity, and social recreation pursuits. Underlying this work continues to be Edmonton’s vision of a community that values, respects and actively supports the safety, diversity and well-being of seniors and the recognition that services to isolated and at risk seniors needs to be enhanced.

Sadly, in January the Outreach Steering Committee and Edmonton lost a champion for social justice.  Sherry McKibben passed away while vacationing in Mexico. She will be missed; she brought a voice for seniors that she encountered in her work at Home Care and other communities.  She was a caring woman who worked to make this world a more inclusive and loving place.


 LIFT: Drive Happiness

As mentioned last time, a market research firm researched the need and demand for volunteer driving, the barriers and challenges seniors face in getting where they need to go, and the experience of current members in the value of the service. Leger reported that due to a lack of volunteer drivers, a third of those current users were not able to access the service when they needed it. For those who did receive rides, they value the service and were pleased with the nice and helpful drivers who made the service more enjoyable.

In the identification of future demand for assisted transportation, 500 seniors in the general population were surveyed. In the past year, one in seven seniors has been unable to access transportation when they needed to, mostly due to unavailability of friends or family to take them around or public transportation being too inconvenient. This is particularly true of seniors aged 80 and older. The research also indicated a need to increase the awareness of this service: 41% of seniors who are 80 or older were not aware of assisted driving services.

The collaboration now has a communication strategy to recruit new volunteers and increase awareness of volunteer driving.  A marketing firm assisted the group in a branding exercise to identify shared values and core outcomes of the service. The coordinated and collaborative service that each organization continues to provide will now be known as LIFT: Drive Happiness.

It is more than a ride! Volunteer drivers give seniors a ‘Lift’ in getting from place to place as well as raising spirits. The tone of the brand is that of an uplifting voice that drives and motivates people to volunteer. Keep your eyes and ears open for the spring launch!

Get on board…

Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council member agencies and organizations will have several opportunities during the coming weeks to elevate the awareness of their board members and staff, and encourage them to recognize the value of their role within the seniors sector.
On Feb. 25 from 1 to 3:30 p.m., executive directors and board representatives are invited to an ESCC meeting at St. John’s Institute, 11024 – 82 Avenue, at which Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations’ executive director Russ Dahms will discuss What You Likely Weren’t Told When You Joined the Board. This one-hour session to open the meeting will touch on Alberta legislation pertinent to non-profit organizations, organization bylaws and policies, cornerstones of good governance, board member liability and legal responsibilities, and conflict of interest.
The presentation was arranged in response to requests at previous EDs/Board Chairs’ meetings for the type of information that will be provided. The remainder of the meeting will be taken up by discussion of sector issues and concerns but an opportunity to suggest other capacity building/awareness raising sessions will also be provided.
Please contact Rich at 780-423-5635 or by Feb. 20 with the names of the individuals from your organization that plan to attend.
The ESCC’s annual general meeting will be held on April 28 at 1:30 p.m. at the Royal Glenora Club, 11160 River Valley Road. Members will be asked to approve a number of bylaw amendments, as many as nine new nominees will be put forward for election to the board of directors, and “retiring” board members will be recognized for their contributions and honoured for their service.
The proposed amendments will be sent out well in advance of the AGM for consideration by members. More information about the AGM agenda will be released when details, including the name and topic of our guest speaker, have been finalized.
Edmonton Seniors Council
Edmonton Seniors Council
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