Lifestyle Helping Hands Seniors Association (LHHSA) is a non-profit association with the purpose of assisting seniors in Edmonton to maintain an independent lifestyle that enables them to remain in their own homes. Seniors value their independence, but lose that independence when they can no longer drive or access transportation to go shopping, banking, reach clinics or the many other required services to stay in their own homes.
A volunteer made a chance remark to a social worker in Southeast Edmonton that seniors could and would be willing to give a small compensation to a driver for assistance with the cost of gas. The remark was noted by a social worker in Southeast Edmonton, and in 1988 the Society of Seniors Caring About Seniors was formed with volunteer drivers providing seniors with transportation in exchange for a small contribution toward gas.
In Southwest Edmonton the Duggan Seniors Resource Nurse, the Good Samaritan Southgate Edmonton Care Centre, and Greenfield 60 + Seniors petitioned Seniors Caring About Seniors to expand the same driving programme to Southwest seniors needing transportation assistance. Permission was granted to have a satellite office in the Southwest. Terms of operation were specified. The satellite office would be governed by a committee responsible to the Board of Seniors Caring About Seniors, provide, furnish and equip an office, staff it, have volunteer drivers. A report and proceeds were forwarded each week to the central office. $500 was provided to cover initial costs.
A committee was formed composed of representatives from both Southeast and Southwest Edmonton. An in kind office space was procured at Lifestyle Options Seniors Residence, Whitemud Crossing. Terms of agreement were met. Membership expanded and service to seniors grew. In a short time the Board of Seniors Caring About Seniors decided to absorb the satellite office and remove all operations to the Southeast office.
Immediately advocates in Southwest Edmonton acted independently. Seniors needing assistance could be served within their own southwest community. A committee was formed, office space and furnishings were provided free of charge by Lifestyle Options, by-laws were written and in February 6, 2002 Lifestyle Helping Hands Seniors Association became a registered Corporation of Alberta. Volunteers gave their talents, skills and time to organizing the office, Southminster Steinhauer United Church provided funding for one year of telephone service, Duggan Seniors Resource Centre composed and printed brochures, volunteer drivers came forward, a homecare coordinator and Edmonton social workers provided counselling. The association provided transportation where needed, screened list for home care, snow shovelling and yard maintenance. A grant from Wild Rose, donations, memberships, and casinos provided funds.
In June of 2009 Whitemud Crossing Lifestyle Options burned, and LHHSA’s office space, furnishings, computer, records lay in wreckage of ashes and water. Service to seniors did not stop for a day. The Coordinator, Doreen Armstrong, working from her own home office and telephone, used Telus answering service to relay members’ requests for assistance to volunteer drivers who carried on. There began a daunting search for office space in Southwest Edmonton while volunteers began a piece by piece retrieval and restructure of form. In September, 2009, Southminster Steinhauer United Church provided a small office which LHHSA still occupies.
The amazing demographic changes pose a rapidly growing demand for more space, more trained staff, and ever more volunteer drivers. Seniors strive to remain independent. Lifestyle Helping Hands Seniors Association strives to assist them.