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Chimo in midst of Giving campaign

By Don Fennell

Published 2:47 PST, Mon November 23, 2020

Last Updated: 2:49 PST, Mon November 23, 2020

They are the backbone of society. But, sadly, many seniors are struggling—financially, mentally, or both.

And despite the challenges affecting the service sector as a whole because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chimo Community Services is stepping up to the plate to extend a helping hand.

“We have a higher population of seniors compared to other municipalities,” notes Chimo’s senior services supervisor Theresa Harding, speaking on the launch of its 20 Day of Giving campaign.

The goal is to inspire individuals, businesses and organizations to support seniors in the community, with the aim of raising $20,000. Donations can be made until Dec. 1 (Giving Tuesday) at bit.ly/20DaysOfGiving. 

Richmond has the highest seniors’ poverty rate in the province according to 2015 Statistics Canada numbers. More than two in 10 Richmond seniors are experiencing poverty.

Harding also notes that seniors are more likely to have lower incomes, tend to be more isolated, and experience higher rates of loneliness.

“It is reasonable to assume that (some) people are having to make hard decisions about what to do with their money,” says Harding.

That could mean purchasing less nutritious food or a lower quality, while also having to consider such things as the cost of needed medications. That can also be hard on one’s mental health and physical well-being.

With an increasing number of seniors coming through its doors, in some instances with longer term implications, Chimo is responding by transferring some of its other services to its seniors program.

Leveraging 47 years of experience in crisis-intervention, the Richmond non-profit plans to add seniors services to their 15 integrated services (with an expected start date of early 2021). Trained volunteers will be able to offer seniors in crisis individualized, long-term support and assistance navigating government systems. To fully launch, Chimo must pay for new costs such as space rentals, a mobile kiosk, marketing activities, materials and supplies, and staff salaries. 

“Over the years we’ve had a number of different funding sources, and we’ve always relied on local community members to volunteer their expertise and time,” says Harding. “I think what has made Chimo so relevant this long is seniors are serving seniors, newcomers serving newcomers.”

Chimo’s Giving Tuesday fundraiser, held annually on the Tuesday immediately following Black Friday, builds upon a global movement of kindness. 

“It gives people a chance to reflect and give back to their community, after Black Friday. which is known as a day of consumerism, and to truly participate in the spirit of Thanksgiving,” says Chimo’s Ginah Choi.

Choi says another popular Chimo event is the Coldest Night of the Year, held each February. She says although the now four-year-old event will look a little different, it will be back in 2021.

By introducing seniors services, Chimo will be able to increase organizational service capacity by 20 per cent, enabling it to support more than 1,000 seniors annually. It will also provide comprehensive access to services through video technology, phone calls, safe in-person meetings at its two office locations, and a mobile kiosk.

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