Connect with Respect - Project Linus Manitoba (Selkirk Chapter)

Project Linus Manitoba (Selkirk Chapter)
Gaynor Family Library
Sept-June (since 2011, 3rd Thursday of each month)
20-30 older adult participants (aged 55 years or older)
12-15 people (average attendance) involved in total


Describe the purpose of the program/activity/event:

Project Linus is a volunteer, non-profit organization. The group was established in 2006 in Stonewall, Manitoba. Manitoba has 4 chapters (Selkirk, Lorette, Westman, Stonewall). National headquarters is in Stonewall, Manitoba with Gayleen Nixon as National Coordinator. Since 2006, we have donated 10,000 blankets in Manitoba. Our target age group is newborn to 18 years of age. The blankets are given to children in crisis, who are ill, or find themselves in difficult situations. Purpose of the organization – the blanket is the child's to keep. It provides the child with love, sense of security, warmth and comfort. It allows the child to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and gives them courage to carry on. The blankets are made from new materials, washable and can be knit, crocheted, quilted or made from fleece materials. Members who do not make blankets wash, label, and package blankets for distribution.

Briefly describe what you think made your program/activity/event special? Why do you think it was successful?

We have received many positive comments regarding the work of Project Linus. There has been a real change in our group in the last 5 years. Old friendships have been rekindled and new relationships formed. We do a "show and tell" each meeting – compliments are given and there is a real sharing of talent and knowledge. Self-esteem has increased ++. They have become a caring group and show concern and respect for each other. I feel it has been a success by the fact that members are asking to meet more frequently.

How inviting or appealing was this activity for the older adults involved?

For many in our group it is a "social outing." It is a chance to interact with their peers, share their talents and knowledge. Everyone has a soft spot in their heart for a child, and for members they feel they are investing in the children in the community. For many it has given them the feeling they are contributing members in the community.

How easy was it (for the older adults) to participate?

Access to the library has been an issue, but we have seen car pools started and increased use of our local transit. Finances are a problem as many members are on fixed incomes. As an organization we try to have supplies on hand for them. Most of our funds are raised through grants and fundraising.

How likely will the older adults who were involved participate again in the future?

Our core group of volunteers have been involved since 2011. Several seniors work from home due to age (one is 92) and health issues. Members pick up their blankets, have a cup of tea, visit and keep them informed about our news and activities.

What advice would you give other groups who may be considering the planning and facilitation of a similar opportunity for older adults?

This has been a very rewarding experience. One always hears negative comments, but the positive outweighs the negative. The "hum" in the room when everyone is together is a great reward for all the work.

What key learning (pearls of wisdom) would you like to share about your experience in "connecting with respect" and creating opportunities for social engagement of older adults in Manitoba?

Patience and tolerance as seniors can be a challenge to work with. Allow for input from the group members. Be flexible and have the ability to change on the fly. Be a good listener.


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