Federal grant re-directed to help local seniors, food banks

WELLINGTON NORTH – Long-term care homes in north Wellington will receive iPads for use by residents and some local food banks will receive a boost through redirected funds from a federal New Horizons grant.

During the April 20 Wellington North council meeting, clerk Karren Wallace reported the township was notified of approval of a $25,000 grant in February.

The project originally proposed was under the “Seniors Helping Seniors through Technological Change and Modernization” category.

The objective was to remove barriers, increase participation and provide education on safe online practices by offering peer-led training and support sessions to seniors.

Letters of support were received from 12 local organizations and groups, including the Town of Minto and Township of Mapleton, with each municipality committing $2,000 to the project.

On April 6, in light of the pandemic’s impact on municipalities, Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte allowed organizations the flexibility to use funding to provide “immediate and essential services to seniors impacted by COVID-19.”

“Staff consulted with local long-term care facilities and the hospital and it determined that iPads were needed by the long-term care facilities to support seniors staying connected with their community and family,” the report states.

Wallace noted staff was advised hospitals in Mount Forest, Palmerston and Fergus were receiving funds for iPads through the 100 Women Who Care Rural Wellington organization, so iPads were directed to long-term care facilities.

She reported that iPads and cases have been delivered to Royal Terrance in Palmerston, Caressant Care in Harriston and Arthur, and Birmingham Retirement Community and Strathcona Long Term Care in Mount Forest.

“Staff consulted with and determined the Arthur Foodbank and Community Pantry in Mount Forest would benefit from a $2,500 financial donation to each, to assist seniors through their organizations.

The Town of Minto and Township of Mapleton were each advised to consider donating their commitment to their local food banks,” the report states.

In addition, $5,000 will be provided to the Seniors Centre for Excellence to support messaging and to provide information to seniors on how to care for themselves during the pandemic.

Wallace pointed out the federal government’s swift action allowed the funds to be used in timely and effective fashion.

“They were pretty quick to get on the ground to have people re-allocate that money,” she told council.

Mayor Andy Lennox commended staff “for being nimble and getting this arranged to meet a community need.”