Dear 411 members, supporters and friends,
These continue to be challenging days as we remain under the risk of COVID-19 and many of us are feeling the toll of the last 11 months and the isolation. Here at the Centre, we have kept our doors open for essential services under reduced public hours of Monday to Thursday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Our volunteers continue to support our work, but safely from home. This means additional coordination time for staff, and most of that takes place when the centre is closed. By limiting public hours, we are also limiting the risk of transmission. We continue to work under a strict WorkSafe BC Safety Plan.
As a senior led organization for seniors, by seniors we have had to find new ways to engage, convene, and connect with our board of directors, committee members, and volunteers at home. This has been one of our greatest challenges.
What we have learned (or relearned) this last year is that for most of us technology and digital platforms are no substitution for face-to-face interactions. The seniors who are coming to the Centre often need someone to talk to, someone to assist them, in person, through a problem or difficulty. With so many government services and community organization’s physical locations closed, and more information, applications, and resources being driven online, the need for face to face service from 411 Seniors has increased. Since June of last year, it has been our small staff team of three people, plus one volunteer, each day on-site supporting and coordinating the work of 411 Seniors. We thank them for keeping our doors open under such stressful conditions.
Despite difficulties, we accomplished a lot. We are very pleased to announce the following updates:
Information & Referral United Way funding
411 Seniors Centre Society has been selected as the Provincial Lead organization for a new funding program through the United Way called ‘Navigation and Peer Support”. This new funding will provide Information & Referral (I&R) services for low-income seniors in communities across British Columbia. 411 Seniors Centre has been providing Information & Referral services in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland for several decades. 411 Seniors Information and Referral service typically assists over 1,800 seniors each year with government forms and applications, pensions and benefits, housing issues, information on community resources, and provides help in accessing those resources. We are excited to see this service receive government support and funding. We look forward to working with and supporting other groups in BC to provide this critical community-based service. We would like to thank the dedicated 411 Information & Referral volunteers for all the people they help and all the knowledge and experience that they share with us.
Construction on our new Centre
The City of Vancouver has issued the building permit for 3510 Fraser Street and construction fencing is up on the site. The project is a co-development between 411 Seniors Centre Society and Community Land Trust (an arm of the Co-op Federation of BC), who will provide 58 units of seniors’ co-op housing above our new 8,000 square foot centre, funded by BC Housing and the City of Vancouver.
411 Seniors Centre Society is self-funding our own costs of construction of the new centre, but was supported by the City of Vancouver through a $800,000 grant to cover the land cost.
At this time, we have no information from the Community Land Trust on the housing costs or application process. We await that information and we will share it as soon as we have it.
The new centre is expected to be ready for occupancy in July 2022.
The 411 Board of Directors, working with the 411 Seniors Issues Committee, recently sent in a submission to the BC Government on housing related issues. We called for:
- Improvements to BC Housing’s Shelter Allowance for Elderly Renters (SAFER), including that SAFER apply to housing co-ops.
- That future rent increases be tied to rental units, not the renter.
For more information on 411 Seniors Advocacy, please contact board President and Seniors Issues Committee Chair, Marion Pollack, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 604-684-8171 and leaving a message for her.
A growing and changing staff team
Monica Murguia Garcia has moved to the role of Seniors’ Services Coordinator and is responsible for Information & Referral Services, including the annual Income Tax Clinic. You may know Monica from her years of service as the Membership and Volunteer Coordinator. Monica has worked with at-home Information & referral volunteers, supported seniors who come to the Centre needing resources and support services, including help with the BC Recovery Benefit and securing low-cost cell phone service through TELUS’s new Mobility for Good Plan for Seniors. She is currently working hard setting up this year’s Income Tax Clinic that will be by appointment this year (call 604-684-8171 and leave a message. We will call you back with an appointment time). You can reach Monica at email@example.com
With on-site programs and face-to-face activities cancelled since March 2021 due to COVID-19, 411 Seniors’ Program Coordinator Mariko Takashina assumed the role of Membership & Drop-In services Coordinator supporting members, volunteers, and visitors to the Centre. She has set up and coordinated the emotional support “Friendly Calls” program, assisted on site members and visitors with wi-fi access to computer equipment. She has worked to ensure that our space is safe, and that people feel welcome. Mariko will be returning to the Program Coordinator role this spring/summer as we work to re-start a calendar of senior-led activities, classes, workshops, and events. You can reach Mariko at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 604-684-8171 and leaving a message for her.
Last year we welcomed Maggie Taylor to the Finance Manger role. Maggie was a 411 member and volunteer prior to joining the staff team. She brings a wealth of professional accounting and business experience. Maggie has taken us from paper cheques to electronic processes and continues her work to modernize our financial systems. She is also assisting the 411 Seniors board of Directors on an upcoming Fundraising Campaign.
And we welcome Morgan Jacko!
At this time, we would like to introduce and welcome Morgan Jacko. Morgan has recently joined us as the new Manager of Operations. Her recent background includes extensive work with Indigenous Elders and working within the community. She was formerly with Digital Health Circle (DHC), an innovation hub for aging and technology. Morgan assumed responsibility for the overall operations of 411 Seniors Centre on January 4th, 2021. You can reach Morgan at email@example.com or by calling 604-684-8171 and leaving a message for her.
Our Executive Director, Leslie Remund, will focus her attention on the new 411 Seniors 3-year Strategic Plan, including overseeing the construction of 3510 Fraser Street.
The 411 Annual Income Tax Clinic
There are many ways to file your 2020 income tax, including by phone to the Canada Revenue Agency. For those who need assistance we will be offering drop-off filing services by appointment this year. You can find this information included in this mail package, on our website, or on our Facebook page 411 Seniors Centre Society.