GWSA Email Update - Special Edition - September 2020
Message from the Board of Directors
Because public health officials’ current advice is that Canadians should expect to have to continue managing the risks of COVID-19 for an extended time to come; and that seniors are currently advised to stay home except for essential activities; the Board determined that no in-person GWSA activities will resume before September 2021 unless government officials inform Ontarians that it is safe for seniors to return to community spaces at an earlier time.
The Guelph Wellington Seniors Association has been actively engaged since face-to-face programs were placed on hold in March due to the pandemic. Through the Board and its committees, GWSA members have been encouraged to minimize isolation by remaining involved and safely connected in creative ways, while our Community Support Services have been providing meals and personal contact to our most vulnerable seniors. As the situation evolves, we are continuing to balance our responsibilities to members with current government and health guidelines. While we understand that many members value close personal contacts through activities in the Evergreen Centre, we also realize our responsibility to follow the best information provided to us that will allow members to return safe and healthy when it is time.
Public health leaders continue to advise Canadians to "practise physical distancing by reducing non-essential travel and trips outside your home," and that you should "stay at home as much as possible if you: are an older adult, have an underlying medical condition, have a compromised immune system." Earlier this month, Drs. Theresa Tam and Howard Njoo told us that a COVID-19 vaccine will not be a “silver bullet.” They cautioned Canadians that we should brace for another two to three years of health precautions.
In light of this advice, the GWSA Board of Directors considered it essential to set realistic expectations for our members about when in-person activities might resume for GWSA members. We adopted the following policy at our August 19, 2020 Board meeting.
We anticipate the September 2021 date will change as the medical community learns more. We will continue to base any decisions about in-person activities on advice from federal, provincial, and local public health officers.
We understand the social aspect of seniors’ time spent together is important. Over the coming year, we are going to:
- Look for more opportunities to offer remote programming to our members and other Seniors in the City of Guelph;
- Partner with Activity Group Leaders to transform some of our existing activities into virtual activities;
- Apply for funding to expand access to remote programming; and
- Partner with other agencies to expand services and programming.
Nothing is more important to your Board of Directors than the health and safety of our members. Until we are able to responsibly offer in-person activities affiliated with the GWSA, we encourage friends to be active and connected in other ways. To facilitate this, all GWSA memberships are being extended during this period, and we will strive to support activity groups in keeping members engaged using remote means. Individuals will need to make personal decisions in their best interest while weighing available medical advice provided for seniors.
If you would like to help us as we move forward, or if you have ideas for partnerships or programming, please reach out to us through the Contact Form on the GWSA website: https://gwsa-guelph.ca/contact-us/
The City of Guelph is responsible for deciding when to reopen the Evergreen Centre. However, their decision is based on the interests of Guelph as a whole. Even if the Evergreen opens, GWSA will not sponsor in-person activities at the Center until public health authorities advise seniors that it is safe for seniors to participate in community events.
The GWSA’s first virtual Annual General Meeting is scheduled for September 15 1:30 pm. In the past, registering to attend the Annual General Meeting has been as simple as stopping by a table to give your name so we could confirm your membership. This year, you’ll register in advance using this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtd--oqDssEtNY2sVZAag2-RXlogAwN1Ir
All attendees must register by noon on September 14 so that we may verify membership and send the meeting link. All requests received by noon on September 14 will receive their link in time to attend the meeting on September 15.
When you register, we’re asking for your address and phone number, too. It gives us an opportunity to update your records in case your information has changed.
Once someone manually confirms your membership, you’ll receive an email with the Zoom link for the meeting. This may take up to 48 hours so please be patient.
The virtual format allows us to retain key features of an in-person AGM but with a few modifications. You will still vote on important association business, but each motion will pop up on your screen with three choices: in favour; oppose; or abstain. Once you make your selection, you’ll click the Submit button and Zoom will count the votes for us automatically.
In the past, GWSA members have been able to download their AGM packet from the website ahead of the meeting. That will remain the same. In addition, this year’s Annual Report will be available in digital format online.
All of the AGM information is available on the GWSA website at this link.
GWSA Membership - Automatically Extended
Due to the pandemic, the GWSA suspended its face-to-face programs effective March 14 and the City of Guelph closed the Evergreen Centre as one of its recreation facilities. While we look forward to returning when we can do so safely, we want to reassure everyone about how memberships are being handled during this time.
The GWSA has decided to automatically extend all memberships from the day of shutdown until we can return to the full and complete operation of the Evergreen Centre. That date will be determined over time. What that means is that if you had 90 days left on your membership when we closed on March 15, 2020, you will still have 90 days left when we reopen.
The September issue of The Sentinel is now available on line at this link and all previous issues are available here.