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Community Care for Seniors celebrates 40 years

Peter Lockyer, of History Lives Here, presents two new videos.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Good food and great company celebrated Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors’ 40th year of helping seniors live at home.

A sold-out event Thursday at Rotary Hall in the Prince Edward County Community Centre saw more than 150 people gathered to celebrate with a roast beef dinner and special presentations.

Brian Smith,Debbie MacDonald Moynes and Paul Huras

“We wanted to share our anniversary evening with the many people who have served as board members, volunteers, staff, donors and supporters over the decades helping the organization to meet the needs of seniors,” said Debbie MacDonald Moynes, executive director of the organization. “We owe our success to their efforts. We’re pleased to have so many members of the community join us to celebrate our 40th year.”

The unseasonably warm mid-October evening began with a reception and welcome by Master of Ceremonies Manson Slik, and Barbara Proctor, president and chair of the board. Following an informal buffet-style dinner which was topped off with desserts from cheesecake to chocolate cake to cherry pie, the 2017 and 2018 board of directors was introduced. Past directors and board members, guests, staff and volunteers were all recognized with a collective round of applause.

The PEC Community Care for Seniors Association was established in 1977 as one of 27 pilot projects across Ontario set up to identify new ways of delivering key services to seniors through volunteer agencies. It is a not-for-profit organization and a registered charity.

Moynes has been with the organization for 36 of its 40 years having joined in 1981 when she applied for a part-time job which she expected to be only temporary. Moynes is no stranger to the County, having grown up here.

“My grandmother lived with my mum and dad and myself, and I spent a lot of time with seniors,” she said. “I knew what I didn’t want to do; my mother was a teacher and I didn’t think I wanted to be a teacher. My grandmother was a nurse and I didn’t think I wanted to do that, but I thought I probably wanted to work with seniors.”

While its mandate is to help enable seniors to live active, independent lives in their own homes, the organization’s innovative services also include volunteer driving, social and recreational programs, Meals on Wheels, reassurance programs, foot care and caregiver support services.

“The organization offers a wide range of practical programs and services to help seniors live at home,” said Moynes, adding, “It is the agency’s goal and vision to help seniors stay in their own home for as long as possible by providing the supports people need, usually they are non-medical supports.”

Prince Edward County has the second largest senior population in Ontario and the sixth largest in Canada.

Volunteers, Moynes said, are crucial to the organization’s success which operates with a small and dedicated staff of about six, but relies on a strong network of more than 500 local volunteers. Moynes noted they are always on the lookout for more volunteers and encourages anyone interested in helping out to contact the organization.

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis honoured the group, presenting a plaque noting the organization’s achievement. Susan Smith, representing MPP Todd Smith (no relation), also brought congratulations on 40 “the amazing achievement” of great years.

“The wide range of services this organization provides to older adults in the community is simply impressive,” said Robert Quaiff, Prince Edward County’s mayor. “Thanks to the work of your staff and volunteers, many older adults can live independently in their homes and can contribute to all areas of this wonderful community.” Quaiff also presented a certificate of recognition adding it was “indeed a most memorable day.”

Paul Huras, CEO of the South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) gave a brief speech which was followed with a history lesson by Dave Fleming, retired program supervisor with the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

“It may not be 40 years for Debbie [Moynes], but I hope publicly and cognitively in your hearts and minds that you are celebrating all the services that Debbie has provided for this organization, absolutely outstanding,” said Fleming, adding “Now’s the time to take hats off to the past and coats off to the future. And that is my wish for this organization and for all of you.”

The highlight of the evening was the showing of two new short films presented by the County’s Peter Lockyer, of History Lives Here.

Moynes noted the organization used funding from an Ontario 150 grant to hire Lockyer, to create two video.

“One is to celebrate seniors in Prince Edward County and all of the things they contributed as pioneers in this community, and then the second video is to celebrate Prince Edward Community Care and our 40 years of caring for seniors in Prince Edward County. We are pretty excited we’re going to launch these two videos.”

The late Grant Howes and his partner Jenifer Dean of the County Cider Company were showcased as modern-day pioneers for their efforts in promoting the cider industry as well as the County.

“The home farm soon became an international destination and was the only cider business in Ontario for many years and became an industry leader,” said Lockyer. “Grant Howes is seen as a visionary pioneer, a true grandfather of the cider industry in Ontario.”

In the second film, Lockyer spoke about how volunteerism has its own rewards as a way of meeting new people and helping others.

“For many older seniors, aging can mean isolation, loneliness and coping with many losses – of health, loved ones, family and friends. But aging can also be about companionship and caring – the main goal of the Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors Association. We believe in a freedom and dignity of choice, the comfort of home and a passion for volunteerism.”

As Lockyer shared his heritage moments, he spoke about the importance of history, concluding the presentation by stating, “We can do better if we learn from the past.”

The big celebration wrapped up with the drawing of door prizes, the noting of a few birthdays and final remarks.

For more information on The Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors Association, visit communitycareforseniors.org or call 613-476-7493.

Guests at the celebration browsed through tables filled with highlights of the organization over the years.

Draws for door prizes capped off the celebration.

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