SOS Seniors’ Advocacy Services Coordinator Dawn Barry has a meeting with local senior Gary Austin to help find solutions to issues he’s dealing with. — Lissa Alexander photo

SOS helps seniors to access services

Advocacy program provides information, emergency assistance for Parksville Qualicum Beach seniors

Last year was extremely hard for Gary Austin.

“I’m on CPP disability, and I didn’t have enough money,” said the local senior. “I had to choose between rent, food and medication.”

After dealing with serious health issues, he underwent a number of operations, as well as chemotherapy, and needless to say, he was unable to work.

That’s when he was connected with the Seniors’ Advocacy Services at SOS (formerly the Seniors’ Connection program).

Dawn Barry, the program co-ordinator, was able to provide support to Austin through the crisis so he could get his medication and still have money for food.

“It made a huge difference,” Austin said. “Dawn makes a huge difference in people’s lives. She is comfortable to talk to, she speaks from the heart and she doesn’t sugar-coat anything.”

SOS Seniors’ Advocacy Services is free and supports seniors aged 60 and older in School District 69 (Qualicum). The program began in 2006 and is being highlighted during SOS’ 50th anniversary year. The majority of funding for SOS programs and services comes from the SOS Thrift Shop and community donations.

Clients of Seniors’ Advocacy Services meet one-on-one with Barry, who provides information, emergency assistance, advocacy and referrals. The program also helps local seniors access government programs and services, apply for benefits, and fill out paperwork.

“A lot of seniors are unaware of government benefits, or other services that they could potentially access to ease their burden and make life a little more comfortable,” said Barry. “Others might need help filling out paperwork after a spouse has passed away or assistance navigating our health care system. We work toward finding solutions to any concern they might have.”

Last year there were 1,951 client contacts in the program, and an average of 22 appointments per month. The program also provided assistance in emergency situations 123 times last year.

Austin said there are a lot of local seniors on fixed incomes and the program is invaluable for them.

“I think that if the program wasn’t around there would be a lot more people out there suffering more than they already are,” he said.

“I’d like to thank SOS from the bottom of my heart for being there for people like me.”

Austin said he’s feeling much better these days and can’t wait to get back to work, although it’s not as easy as it once was.

“Every day I wake up and think, ‘OK, today is going to be the day I get a job.’ But it’s not that easy in Parksville. You are either too old or too overqualified.”

Austin remains optimistic however, as he said he is feeling good, and is thankful to be able to concentrate his energy on getting a job.

Just Posted

Solar system spending, asbestos removal in SD69 plan

Green house gas emission report received at May 22 board meeting

Gr. 7s learn about digital safety, health, consent at con in Parksville

SD69 hosts first Health and Wellness Conference for students headed to high school

Qualicum Beach east village plans take shape

Staff moving forward with east village concept

Three-for-one at Parksville studio for tour

Local artists participating in Central Island Studio Tour May 26-27

Pole dancers bring disco theme for second Errington hall event

Island Talent Pole Fitness show to include national champs on June 2

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Catalyst Paper to sell U.S. mills to Chinese company

Sale will allow company to focus on B.C. interests, says president Ned Dwyer

Comox Valley baseball player Thomas Green commits to Cuesta College

18-year-old shortstop following in older cousin Taylor’s footsteps

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

Most Read