Day 11 - Vancouver - Safe Seniors, Strong Communities

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Darien and Teddy live in Comox, a small island town of 15,000 residents located off the coast of British Columbia (BC), Canada. 

Through the United Way’s “Safe Seniors, Strong Communities” initiative, Darien and Teddy have their groceries delivered, receive hot meals three times a week and enjoy regular check-in conversations by phone. Due to their existing health conditions, it would be extremely difficult for them to have access to these necessities if it weren’t for the Safe Seniors program. 

Teddy expresses deep gratitude for the volunteers who assist the couple with great care and empathy—and especially appreciates that the grocery and meal drop-offs help them to maintain a sense of independence while remaining safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Darien looks forward to the check-in phone calls and depends on them for a sense of routine and connection. These interactions make it far less frightening to stay physically distant. They hope that when help is no longer required they will be able to remain friends with the volunteers who assist them.

The Concept

This program was developed in less than two weeks during the first wave of COVID-19 in order to provide older adults with  food, prescriptions, conversation and other basic needs. 

In order to request assistance or indicate interest in volunteering, participants simply dial 2-1-1 from any telephone to speak with a representative. Their information is then distributed to one of 24 hub agencies across the province that match volunteers with the seniors who need them most. 

The Result

Since March 2020 over 470,000 older adults have been served across British Columbia. More than 8,500 volunteers have participated in the program. The average age of the new volunteers is 36, which is significant because in the past more than half of those donating their time were seniors themselves.  

In the first three months of the program over 90,000 acts of volunteerism were performed, including more than 50,000 virtual visits and check-in phone calls, 14,000 meals prepared and delivered and nearly 11,000 grocery drop-offs. Learn more about the initiative here and get involved by visiting

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