One of the most popular organizations in the town of Springdale and the whole Green Bay Region is at risk of being no more, say the people behind it.
Life Unlimited for Older Adults has been in existence for the past number of years, and has become somewhat of a staple in the community, through it’s many programs and resources that reach out to older adults from the community.
The group has a history encompassing more than seven years. It began as “Community Links for Older Adults”, a committee of Central Health consisting of a group of Older Adults and a Primary Health Care Facilitator, with a goal to promote active living and wellness within the Older Adult population in Springdale.
Following that program, a group of Older Adults, motivated by information sessions, directed by that committee, sought and received funding to generate programs and activities designed to decrease isolation among the Older Adult population. Thus began “Life Unlimited For Older Adults”.
LUFOA became a committee of the Town of Springdale in 2006, and under that umbrella, has been able to access resources that contribute to capacity building and sustainability.
The group has a goal and mandate that says they hope “to encourage older adults in planning and promoting social, recreational and educational activities to encourage healthy living.” Their target age group is people aged 50 and above, and through their activities, they reach out to dozens of seniors every month, and many rely on their initiatives to remain active and healthy.
Gloria Shepherd, Bonnie Rowsell, Phyllis Gard and Donna Snow are the volunteers who lead the organization, and they now say they fear that lack of funding will cause LUFOA to virtually not exist by the end of this month, and with it will go a number of programs that residents have come to rely on.
“At the end of April, our current funding runs out, and with that, so does many of the programs,” said Rowsell and Snow in an interview last week. The ladies explained that over the past number of years, LUFOA has developed programs that assist in reader’s physical activities as well as their mental and social well-being. In total, over 35 programs have come from the group, including social game and movie nights, physical exercise sessions, crafts, educational endeavors with reading and seminar classes, help with computers, and much more that seniors and older adults can benefit from.
Perhaps one of the most important programs has been the ‘Vial of Life’ program that has been used numerous times by paramedics in the community, and has been hailed by Central Health as a benefit and success by health care professionals responding to emergencies at the home of a participant.
All that, though, will be no more, if funding isn’t secured within the next few weeks.
“We’ve made applications, but we’ve never been this close to not receiving funding,” explained the team leaders. The group relies on a number of community and Government programs that allow them to keep the doors open, but availability of those programs is becoming scarce.
“There’s no program that provides funding for groups like us on a continual basis,” explained the leaders – which they feel is an injustice to the seniors of the province. Because of that fact, as well, the group has been writing proposals and drawing from pots of money all over the place for the past years.
“There’s a lot of programs available out there, but one of the key problems we have is that most of them are only for materials,” they said. LUFOA has grown to a level that cannot be managed solely by volunteers anymore – thus they’ve had a Project Coordinator working to run the programs and offer support to those who avail of the services. That position is also on the chopping block, they say, if a solution can’t be found soon.
So what is it they’re looking for? For now, the group is still holding out hope that something can come together before it’s too late, if not, then it’s obviously going to mean a sad day for all those involved. However in the long term, they say it’s imperative that the Government considers the needs of seniors when they bring down the budget later this month.
“There are programs and resources abound for young people,” they said, “and that’s great – but what about people who have retired and need to remain active? Are they expected to just go off and not be heard from again? That shouldn’t be the case.”
The team says that they’ve nearly exhausted all the resources they can think of, at all levels of Government – from municipal to federal. However, in travelling the province and meeting with various groups, they’re finding that their financial trouble isn’t from a lack of popularity – in fact, their model is now being used for many more communities across the province to start up similar groups in other areas.
“When you go and talk to some of these people, they seem to know everything about you, and all the good things you’re doing, but yet, no one is willing to offer anything to help us keep going,” they said. “Really, it gives off the impression that we’re known, but we’re not appreciated.”