Editor’s note: The following article is part one of a three-part series showcasing the people who cross paths with the services, programs, and supports facilitated by the seniors’ centres in the area. This week, the Winchester Press met with a longtime volunteer of the Nor-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre.

WINCHESTER – For the past 10 years, village volunteer Brenda “Sue” Chambers has spent her free time building friendships with the grandmothers and grandfathers of the community.

Brenda “Sue” Chambers

“It has meant the world to me to be able to give back to the local seniors,” said Chambers. “I can’t picture myself doing anything else – I know it’s where I’m meant to be.”

Her journey as a volunteer with the Nor-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre began as an office assistant to the centre’s manager Caroline Rooney, booking appointments for seniors, co-ordinating their visits to the doctor’s office, and facilitating transportation options.

For a time, she also helped with the centre’s Meals on Wheels program, where volunteers deliver warm meals for seniors at lunchtime and check up on their well-being.

Currently, Chambers is one of four volunteers who regularly assist with the Diner’s Club, which is hosted at the Nelson LaPrade Centre in Chesterville every first and third Tuesday of the month. The low-cost meal proves a great service for local seniors who need a break from hectic schedules, or for those who are simply looking for some company.

“I have been helping with the Diner’s Club for many years now, and it’s definitely a spot that has become my niche,” said Chambers, who grew up in the Chesterville area. “I know many of the seniors already from my years in the area, and not only is it nice for them to see a familiar face, it’s also great for me to hear all their life stories, and really get to know them all over again. It’s heartwarming to say the least.”

Chambers started volunteering at the centre after her husband passed away in a tragic farming accident 12 years ago on Riveredge Farms. Unsure of what her next steps would be, her friend Rooney – whom she met through Millview Senior Apartments, where her 85-year-old mother lives – suggested she volunteer to fill her time.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do – at that age, it wasn’t the right time for me to go back to work, but I knew I needed something that would fulfill me,” said Chambers. “When Caroline said I should volunteer, I knew it was a great idea. That’s what started it all, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Of course, there are some challenges – especially when Chambers builds strong bonds with seniors in the area, and is forced to watch their health deteriorate.
“I have a big heart, so that’s the hardest part – knowing they’re sick, or when they pass away. I can’t distance myself from that,” she said. “But all you do, is be there, make them laugh and smile for the time you can, and that makes all the difference in the world.”

With the growing population of seniors in the area, as well as more elders wanting to stay at home for as long as possible, the need for volunteers is stronger than ever.

Whether it be helping with home visits, driving someone to the drug store, or taking a disabled senior to get groceries, there’s room for various roles helping those in need in the community.

Services offered in the community include transportation, Meals on Wheels, dining clubs, adult day services, friendly visiting, telephone reassurance, caregiver support, client intervention and assistance, home maintenance and home help services.

“Just do it – it doesn’t take much to volunteer,” added Chambers. “You can give as little or as much time as you want. Even if it’s a couple of hours a month. It’s the most rewarding piece of time you can give.”

On Thurs., Oct. 12 from 9 am to 1 pm, seniors can come out to Matilda Hall for Dundas County Wellness 50+ Day, where local organizations will gather to spread the word about the various programs and services offered in the area for those over the age of 50.

There will be vendors set up, as well as a multitude of interactive presentations on topics like funeral planning, the disability tax credit, chronic disease management, retirement planning, and more.

The free event will also offer a complementary lunch for the first 200 people through the doors, and is sponsored by the J.W. MacIntosh Seniors Support Centre/WNPHC, Carefor/Non-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre, the Chartwell Hartford Retirement Residence, Eastern Ontario Financial Services, SD&SG MP Guy Lauzon’s office, and SD&SG MPP Jim McDonell’s office.

Last year’s Dundas County 50+ Wellness Day was packed with residents seeking out more information about the services for those 50 years and older in the area. Press Photo – Gosselin