The Senior Cycles project looks to map the information volunteer habits of up to 30 seniors, identify home-based volunteering activities in their neighbourhood and host a series of informal volunteering events to connect seniors with their neighbours to the projects. (iStock photo)

Project aims to reduce senior isolation on the West Shore

Senior Circles given recent boost

A project focusing on volunteerism amongst seniors is coming to the West Shore.

Called Senior Circles, the project looks to map the information volunteer habits of up to 30 seniors, identify home-based volunteering activities in their neighbourhood and host a series of informal volunteering events to connect seniors with their neighbours to the projects.

The project hopes to reduce senior isolation, develop intergenerational connections and create new and meaningful volunteer activities.

“When they [seniors] move homes, they downsize, they move to a new neighbourhood or they give up their vehicles, their volunteering trends change,” said Volunteer Victoria executive director Lisa Mort-Putland.

“They look for volunteer opportunities closer to home … They begin to shift the volunteering away from things that are sometimes more structured and organizational into something that’s more community and neighbourhood based.”

RELATED: Find your volunteer niche around Greater Victoria

It’s a project Volunteer Victoria started informally two years ago, when they began speaking to a number of the organization’s roughly 800 senior volunteers, and learned they didn’t offer many opportunities that were informal and based in neighbourhoods.

“We’re looking at how do we put volunteering into neighbourhoods,” Mort-Putland said, adding the project will help identify volunteer projects that seniors hope to get involved in.

“We suspect that there will be projects that are about community spaces, so perhaps a community garden somewhere, planting some trees or cleaning up a part of their neighbourhood that they feel is important.”

Mort-Putland said the project will begin with seniors on the West Shore, since there are fewer non-profits and has a growing population that is constantly changing.

Recently that project received a boost from the Island Savings Community Endowment fund in the form of a $7,500 grant. This year the First West Foundation, through its Island Savings Community Endowment, distributed 16 grants totalling $75,453 throughout Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands.

The foundation has donated more than $5 million in grants to local community groups and projects since its inception in 1996.

“By helping local organizations like Volunteer Victoria get the funding they need, we ensure they can continue to deliver the programs and services that make our communities a better place to live,” said Susan Byrom, executive director of the First West Foundation.

For more information on the Senior Circles project call 250-386-2269.

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