For many seniors and elders in South Delta, living independently or in residential facilities, life can be rather isolated and lonely, affecting mental, physical and emotional quality of life. Since 2003 ElderCollege Delta Society, run by volunteer seniors, has been improving the quality of life for seniors by advancing their education through courses, instructional seminars, field trips and workshops.
With $7,000 from the Delta Foundation, as emergency community funding for charities serving vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, ElderCollege can apply this funding to continuing, as and how possible, its fall and spring program of 76 courses, seminars and field trips, totalling 295 course hours for 717 attendees as well as its free public talks for 720 attendees and presentations at care homes in South Delta.
The funding for the grant comes from the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), to support charities for vulnerable populations, hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. The emergency community funding is administered across the country by Community Foundations of Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada, along with two other networks, United Way and Red Cross. This Round 2 of funding follows Round 1 of the ECSF campaign completed in July.
ElderCollege instructors are experienced volunteers in their respective fields. Typical courses offered are in computers (iPad, Win10, email, social media), arts (visual, literary, musical), languages, psychology, science, current affairs, social issues, gardening and indigenous studies.
ECDS was particularly affected by the COVID-19 quarantine, as facilities closed, leading to cancellation of the spring term and refund of fees, sharp drop in enrollment and class size restrictions, due to physical distancing, has resulted in a sharp drop in fee revenue for 2020/2021. Committed to engaging our seniors, ECDS volunteers have been experimenting with distance learning to determine the feasibility of using this method to interact with isolated seniors, but that will take time and funding to develop what is feasible.