Community support pours in for Message in a Bottle project for isolated seniors

Tue, 05 May 2020

Town of Oakville Phone-A-Friend program continues to gain momentum

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, letters, artwork and words of encouragement have poured in from Oakville residents as part of the town’s Message in a Bottle project to support isolated seniors.

“We recognize that our most vulnerable residents need a little extra support right now. The Message in a Bottle project is a wonderful way to reach out to seniors in our community to help tackle the isolation they are experiencing during these difficult times,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “We received more than 200 submissions from the community in just over a week to contribute to this project. This public response has exceeded our expectations. Thank you to our local residents for supporting this endeavour and helping to brighten someone’s day.”

As part of the Message in a Bottle program, 800 isolated seniors receiving Food For Life Halton grocery deliveries during the week of May 11 will receive a Mason Jar care package filled with items to help raise their spirits during self-isolation.

Funded through the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors grant, each care package contains information about the town’s Phone-A-Friend program, a one-of-a-kind artwork or letter created by a local resident, Oakville Public Library outreach opportunities, physical activity tutorials and brain games, Origami butterfly, heart-shaped stress ball, tea and candy treat, and a non-medical, cloth face mask made by a local fashion designer, Joseph Tassoni.

While Oakville seniors are physically distancing during self-isolation, enhancing social connections remains imperative. The Phone-A-Friend seniors program continues to gain momentum with more than 200 seniors receiving weekly calls from town staff and local volunteers.

“Although we are physically distanced while our facilities are closed, we don't need to be emotionally distanced,” said Julie Mitchell, acting director for the town’s Recreation and Culture department. “The feedback from seniors about this program is incredibly positive. We are encouraging community connections to reduce barriers for our vulnerable residents.”

The Phone-A-Friend program connects seniors with a staff member or volunteer who will check in regularly to chat and see how participants are doing. New friends can call 905-845-6601, press 0 and ask to be added to the Phone-A-Friend call list. 

In addition, plans are underway to launch Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a free and interactive telephone-based program which connects seniors 50+ to other seniors from the comfort of their homes. Unique 30 to 60-minute long sessions covering various topics will be offered through multi-person phone conversations or conference calls. No special equipment is needed, just a phone. Details will be shared on the town’s website as soon as the program is live.

Oakville’s older adults are encouraged to connect on the Seniors Services Facebook page while in-person programs and services are closed. The Seniors Services team goes live every Wednesday at 11 a.m. with recipe demos, workshops, crafts, performances, and more.

A list of community resources is also available through the Halton Community Services Directory to support seniors during this time.

For more information on the town’s efforts to support the community in response to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Information page or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Visit the Halton Region website for health-related information.