Thank you for your tremendous support in 2020! In March of last year, which seems almost unimaginably long ago, the COA suddenly found itself working virtually and switching to events via Zoom. Then, we had to vacate our offices on Kilborn by the end of the year and find a new home.
To our great delight, you stuck with us. You humoured us through technical glitches. You regrouped with us to continue participating in important committee work online. You shared words of encouragement. You also donated generously. For all of this, we are immensely grateful!
2020 has shown how much we rely on each other to help each other out. We believe, with your help, we can make an even bigger difference in the lives of Ottawa seniors in 2021. There’s still work to be done to achieve our vision of “respected, informed and engaged seniors living in an age-friendly city”.
Sarah Bercier, Executive Director
I am excited about and grateful for the new opportunities that 2021 brings! The opportunity to work closely with so many other organizations at our new home at the Rideau Community Hub will allow us to increase our impact and expand our reach to a wider range of Ottawa’s seniors. The continued expansion of the Smart Aging Program provides ongoing opportunities for focused and empowering impact in the lives of individual seniors. The ongoing effort and enthusiasm of dedicated volunteers, Board Members, and staff, despite current circumstances, has continued to be not only effective but also truly inspirational. I look forward to continued opportunities for increasingly respected, informed, and engaged seniors, both individually and city-wide!
Bonnie Schroeder, Age-Friendly Ottawa Director
As we moved home as a staff team in early 2020, I worried about the many volunteers I have the distinct pleasure of working with at COA. Yet, most were resilient in the middle of the pandemic and gave of their time, talent, and resources every day online from their homes. As we take a giant leap into 2021 and wait for the COVID-19 vaccine to be rolled out to older adults, I most look forward to continuing working with the dedicated volunteers to redress the long-standing tragic conditions in LTC, to raise awareness of housing and transportation options for older adults in Ottawa, and to improve winter walking conditions through the Snow Mole Patrol. Each one of these actions can improve the quality of life for older adults in Ottawa.
Stéphanie Cadieux, Director of Education
As we begin a new year, I look back on the absolute chaos that 2020 brought with it and find myself being immensely grateful for the opportunity to join the COA team. As many of you already know, the staff and volunteers at the COA are amazing and so very supportive of everybody. In speaking with some COA members, I have learned of the many challenges our city’s older adults have had to face since the start of this awful pandemic; but, you know what… stories of despair and discouragement are not what stayed with me… what I heard from everyone was that, despite the difficulties, we have to look to each day with hope in our hearts and try to focus on the positive things in our lives, things that we often take for granted. Whenever things go sour and I become discouraged, I think of what I am grateful for: I have a job, my belly is full, I have a roof over my head and I have a family who loves me. Everything else is trivial… My hope is that everyone starts this year acknowledging the good things in their lives and being grateful for them. I also hope that everyone seeks happiness and searches for opportunities to learn new things and strengthen their connection to the people around them. I wish you all the very best!
Donna McLeod, Administration
My hope for 2021 is that seniors across Ottawa will become more comfortable with technology. This would help us expand our knowledge and allow us to engage more with each other.
Dagmar Horsman, Communications
I was delighted to see the degree of interaction at the COA virtual Open House and the Smart Aging closing workshop, which had gone unexpectedly virtual. Clearly, people want to connect. I am excited to be part of a team that creates more innovative and engaging opportunities for Ottawa seniors to interact in 2021, online, and in person. I want to thank all our loyal INFO-FLASH readers. In 2021, I hope to see us reach an even broader audience with useful information on the excellent advocacy work done by COA committees, such as the winter walking audits and the long-term care “We Need Change Now” campaign.
Pascale Lalonde, Director of Community Development
I am always amazed at the phenomenal work that gets accomplished by our action committees and 2020 showed me just how phenomenal a team we really have here at the COA. Everyone stepped up in spite of numerous challenges, and so much was achieved. I am grateful for the privilege of working with such an extraordinary group of people which include COA staff, our numerous volunteers, and also our incredible individual, organizational and corporate members. Without your engagement, we would not have the same momentum or capacity, and your support makes a tremendous difference. I miss our in-person events, the chats, and hugs, and my hope is that we will resume some level of in-person meetings in 2021 where we can start to make up a little for all this physical distancing. Working from home is lovely but doesn’t compare to being in the middle of the action. 2021 here we come!