Voices Of Burnaby Seniors
Voices of Burnaby Seniors Task Force
Voices of Burnaby Seniors Task Force is a seniors-directed, community-based not-for-profit organization comprised of Burnaby seniors and representatives from agencies and organizations that serve Burnaby seniors. We are funded by the United Way of the Lower Mainland. Our goal is to undertake activities and projects that will support seniors in being healthy, independent and connected members of our community.
VOBS membership is open to Burnaby seniors willing to attend general meetings and work on one of three subcommittees that meet three times a year outside of the general meetings. The involvement of a large number of senior members is critical to our success, and we welcome new members at any time.
Membership is also open to representatives of community agencies or organizations serving Burnaby seniors in a resource, service and/or advisory role. These members provide a professional perspective and keep us informed of the nature and status of existing services and programs.
In 2006 VOBS, with funding from the federal New Horizons for Seniors Program, surveyed over six hundred Burnaby seniors about their needs with regard to housing, transportation, support services, healthy living and social connections. The results are in a report called “Voices of Burnaby Seniors – A Survey of Burnaby Citizens 55 years and Older.” The report can be found at www.burnabycommunityconnections.com.
Since 2007, we have used the survey information and our awareness of current issues to develop activities and projects that support Burnaby seniors. VOBS has close to 60 members, representing Burnaby's diversity. We also have a salaried coordinator funded by The United Way of the Lower Mainland.
We have three subcommittees working in specific areas: Advocacy, Information and Outreach, and Transportation. We report to Burnaby City Council once a year.
Examples of our Activities
VOBS worked with TransLink to develop and deliver a program called Travel Smart for Seniors. Developed to assist seniors who are not familiar with TransLink (buses, Skytrain and Seabus), it was designed to help them feel capable, safe and confident when using the transit system. Trained seniors presented the sessions.
With funding from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, VOBS and the City of Burnaby undertook a Pedestrian Audit of the Edmonds shopping area, a part of the city with a significant population of seniors and people with mobility challenges. The “auditors” (seniors and others with mobility issues and City Planning staff) noted such factors as uneven pavement, presence and condition of sidewalks, timing of lights, presence of benches, location and condition of bus shelters, lighting, etc. This audit information will be used by the City’s Planning Department. Members recently participated in an audit of Cascade Heights as well, working with senior students from Cascade Heights Elementary School.
With United Way Funding and in partnership with Burnaby Neighborhood House (formerly South Burnaby Neighborhood House), we developed a Seniors Outreach Worker and Senior Outreach Ambassador Program. They work to connect isolated or at risk seniors with services and programs. The Ambassadors are volunteers, among whom approximately fifteen languages are spoken.
In partnership with Burnaby Community Services (formerly Burnaby Community Connections), we have developed Community Resource Cards for seniors. These are distributed by the Outreach Worker, the Ambassadors, VOBS members and people who work with seniors. The cards provide contact information for many community resources and are available in English, Chinese, Punjabi and Japanese.
VOBS members and our coordinator were involved with Burnaby Fall Prevention Society’s “Safe for Seniors, Safe for All” project, a partnership with Fraser Health Authority and the Burnaby School District, funded by the Federal New Horizons for Seniors Program. Using “Safety Superheroes” materials provided by Fraser Health, trained senior volunteers presented the program in 62 classrooms at nine Burnaby elementary schools, teaching 1300 students fall prevention strategies to use at home, i.e., to “fall-proof” their homes for the safety of the seniors who live or visit there.
These are but a few of the initiatives we have undertaken during the seven years of our existence.
Meeting and Contact Information
The remaining 2013-14 VOBS Meetings will be held at the Bill Copeland Arena on Kensington (north entrance) in the Lakeview Room from 10:00 am to 12 noon on 2014 January 14, March 11, May 13 and June 10. If you would like to join one of our subcommittees, contact our coordinator Mariam Larson.
For more information, contact VOBS coordinator Mariam Larson at 604-515-1718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.