by Jeff Mills
This past Sunday on CBC’s program Tapestry, host Mary Hynes interviewed Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and professor of human development at Cornell University, about the five years of research he conducted interviewing over a thousand people over the age of 65. Dr. Pillemer asked seniors what they had learned about how to live a good life. After 25 years working as a gerontologist, he felt he had been replicating what our culture tends to do, namely, he was treating older people as problems to solve rather than embracing them as persons with gifts. Results from this study are available at The Legacy Project, and he’s written a book called 30 Lessons for Living. You can listen to this great radio segment at http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2013/01/25/lessons-for-living-1/ .
Last September, the Almonte Baptist Church, the Alzheimer Society of Lanark and Mills Community Support hosted their second annual Seniors Expo. Over 500 guests dropped by from our region.
In an effort to engage our community’s older persons and hear what they are thinking about their town, we asked them three simple questions. With the Town of Mississippi Mills embarking on a process to develop a new recreation master plan, we felt it important to share what they had to say. We have compiled the answers specific to Mississippi Mills below
1. Tell us about a time when you were most proud of your community.
- When we were building our house – town employees were very helpful
- How the town and neighbours rallied during the ice storm
- Mills Community Support – “excellent volunteers”
- Post care when my husband came out of the hospital
- When my grandkids moved here from Alberta. They were so welcomed!
- Town rallied to clean river
- Formation of the Hub
- When I discovered Mills Community Support – “Never seen anything like it before”
- Development of hospital and Fairview Manor
- Every parade and event
- Mills housing for seniors and families
- Light Up the Night
- Re-development of Almonte General Hospital/new Fairview Manor, and now the Ottawa Valley Health Care Team
- Hub moves to former Royal Bank
- When there was much less service – can’t afford it, removes independence, less self-reliant. (Less service is a GOOD thing)
- Almonte General Hospital – a great facility. The Hub – always giving to the community. Puppets Up – family fun
- Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists – great talks and outings. Almonte Lectures – learn and live. Land Trust – conserving nature
- It recognizes your talents and endeavours
- It is great how volunteers and donors appear when there is a cause or a problem
- Water and sewers in NE Almonte
- The creation of Almonte Community Development Corp (ACDC)
- Community support for events
- Almost always!
2. Tell us about one thing – a place, an event, a service, or a person – in your community that is very important to you now. Why?
- The Civitan Club!!
- Mississippi River Watchers
- Truly a friendly town – kind lady at the paper shop
- Grateful for how the community takes care of its seniors
- All the great staff at the Mills group homes
- I love the Riverwalk!
- An elderly friend
- Almonte Old Town Hall and the arts it brings
- The building of Mark’s Lookout
- Almonte General Hospital
- The Library
- My weekly meditation group
- Community Care Access Centre
- My daughter
- Almonte General Hospital and Fairview Manor
- The Alzheimer Society of Lanark provides fantastic services
- The Mills – doing great work in our community for seniors
- Love the various festivals
- Excellent committees that are doing good work – Postino Café “I love them”
- Veteran’s walkway
- Almonte Day Hospital
- Home Support
- James Naismith
- Brenda, worker from Home Support
- Millie, a super friend and neighbor
- The festivals are vital
- More recognition for devoted services
- The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Garden Project – different generations working together
- Volunteers are critical
- Heirloom Café
- Angel Tree Program
- Puppets Up
3. What do you wish for your community?
- To stay healthy
- More housing for seniors.
- Wish there was better transportation – i.e. bus to Ottawa at 10 – return at 2. We used to have a train
- More open conversation with residents by council
- Keep the train bridge
- Better sidewalks! You don’t know how bad they are until you’re handicapped
- Would like Active Seniors Koalition activities near Almonte
- More people going to local churches
- Less development
- Phase 3 of the Country Street Seniors’ Apartments
- Bike paths and trail thru town and beyond
- Cut back 70%. Will make people self-reliant and dependent on selves
- Keep the small town charm
- More services for seniors including housing, home care
- I wish for more parks along the river in Almonte and Pakenham
- A seniors’ recreation centre
- A single senior’s coffee group
- Only the best good council and a good leader
- To become a major cultural and recreation centre
- Sidewalks for people
- More affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities
- Build more seniors housing so seniors can function on their own
- Bike paths and trails!
- Easier access to shopping – shopping (groceries) are on the edge of town
- Grocery store at Country St. area
- More rental housing
- Walking trails and parklands
- Vision from councillors!
- More supported housing
- Seniors housing!
- Industrial development to provide jobs to keep our young people
- A council that will NOT pay lip service to people
- More and more support for seniors. Hospice
- Intergenerational programs (seniors and students)
- Seniors Centre for cards and drop in
- Put the town hall in the centre of town
- More street festivals
- Pave Golden Line Road please!
- I wish for every person to feel included and valued, whatever their circumstances
Margaret Wheatley put it best when she said, “Very great change starts from very small conversations, held among people who care.” Input from our older citizens should always be sought as their collective wisdom is a community treasure. We must ask ourselves, “are we doing everything possible to make sure their views are heard?” We have much to learn from the resiliency of our elders and the lessons that they themselves have learned.
Mills Community Support, a non-governmental agency that provides housing, supports, services and recreation for seniors, encourages you to fill out the Town of Mississippi Mills Recreation Survey. Here is a link to the survey.
Perhaps print out a few copies, and then have a “small conversation” with your family members and older neighbours and share the survey. Hard copies are also available at the Recreation office in the Old Town Hall. The deadline for submissions is February 8th.
Coordinator, Community Development
Mills Community Support