Meeting Rural Challenges With Energy and Imagination: RCF AGM 2017

TRURO – 2016 was an important year of growth and development for the Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCF). Our work, effectively led by the Board, has been largely carried out by RCF’s committees, and each delivered on their mandates, and more.

The Fund Development Committee continued its work on the creation of grant programs that focus on the immediate issues facing rural Nova Scotia. These included three key grant programs: the Rural Youth Grant Program, the Woodlot Owners Innovation Fund and the Rural Seniors Grant Program. Each of these programs is based on collaborations with partner organizations, an approach to grantmaking that we believe is breaking new ground. In addition, it also laid the groundwork for the Rural Vitality Grant Program, which is being delivered in 2017.

Our Grant/Nomination Committee did excellent work in managing the Seniors Grant Program which supports exciting initiatives relating to rural seniors. At our AGM on June 16th at NSCC Truro, we heard presentations and a panel discussion on three RCF funded rural seniors projects.

(L-R): Jean Crawford, Hants Shore Community Health Centre; Carol Jones, Old School Community Gathering Place Cooperative Ltd.; RCF Chair Arthur Bull

Carol Jones of the Old School Community Gathering Place Cooperative Ltd talked about their 2016 RCF Seniors Grant funded project, the Community Based Peer Support Program for Chronic Disease Management. Through the program, people living with chronic illness on Nova Scotia’s south shore can access information sessions, resources and mentoring in order to adopt health strategies to improve their lives. “By looking at chronic disease as our overall umbrella, we can offer our project to all age groups on the south shore,” says Carol. Workshops are planned for Fall 2017 on Emotional Wellness and Coping Skills, Living Our Best Lives, Financial Security and Scams, and other pertinent topics. One of the goals of the project is to help seniors on the south shore to live independently in their homes for as long as they are able. VIDEO

Jean Crawford of the Hants Shore Community Health Centre gave a presentation on their 2016 RCF Seniors Grant funded project, the Seniors’ Drop In. The project provides presentations, a healthy lunch, low impact aerobics sessions and musical entertainment once a week for seniors at the Centre Burlington Hall. “A needs assessment found that our seniors needed to be more included with what was going on in their communities,” says Jean. “Our rural seniors often feel isolated because of large distances between neighbours in our region, and they need more opportunities to be with other people.” The Seniors’ Drop In allows seniors to get together to socialize, enjoy a meal, get some exercise, and learn about other resources available for them. VIDEO

The Seniors Navigator Project creates and evaluates ways to improve rural seniors’ access to the services they need. Project Coordinator Anna Roch and seniors’ navigators Phyllis Price, Bertha Meister and Terry Keddy participated in a panel discussion and answered questions from the audience on their work and the value of having seniors’ navigators in rural areas. “The Seniors’ Navigator Project will provide training to community leaders so they can serve as rural navigators to seniors,” says Anna Roch. “Navigators will direct seniors to the services they need with the objective of maximizing their ability to remain in their homes and in their rural communities.” Nova Scotia 211 will partner with the project as part of a triage system, and will refer seniors to one of the seniors’ navigators when necessary. VIDEO

The Seniors’ Navigators Project panel (L-R): RCF Board Director Brenda Allen, Project Coordinator Anna Roch, New Ross Seniors’ Navigators Phyllis Price, Bertha Meister and Terry Keddy.

Besides providing resources for enriching the lives of seniors living in rural Nova Scotia, RCF also facilitated a grant of $20,000 from RBC for Heartwood Centre for Community Youth Involvement, a partner on the youth grant program. “The committee delivered on the nomination side of their mandate as well, bringing in three excellent new board members,” says RCF Chair Arthur Bull. “Our new directors Greg Levy, Jean Ward and Maureen Coady have contributed a lot over the last year.”

Arthur Bull sees huge challenges for rural communities in this province as he looks ahead to 2018 and beyond. “2016 put us in a position to meet these challenges with new energy and imagination. As we set new targets and objectives, we remain rooted, above all, in our belief in the inherent value of the small communities of rural Nova Scotia.”