Friday, August 22, 2014

Seniors’ supporters bask in spotlight

Businesses, organizations, and individuals who have supported the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.) group since its inception in August, 2010 were recognized Friday night during the inaugural “Hats off to Seniors” gala at La Place Rendez-Vous here.
“It certainly exceeded our expectations,” said Nell Laur, a member of S.A.L.T., which is known as an enthusiastic group of seniors working together to promote health and safety for the older people of Rainy River District.

The group’s mission is to advocate for action to ensure that seniors live in a healthy, safe, enjoyable, and vibrant community.
They also aim to act as a communication link between seniors and service providers, to increase awareness of services for seniors, and to support seniors in the community.
But Friday’s gala, which saw a total of 170 people attend, was meant to demonstrate the importance of a community working together.
“We wanted to emphasize the importance of networking,” explained Erma Armit, adding they did exactly that.
“We have such a fantastic team of people, and it’s a combination of seniors and the service network,” she noted.
“One inspires the other, so it’s really important we keep each other moving on.”
Armit said it also was important for S.A.L.T. to recognize those who have helped and supported the group’s efforts in many ways.
“Without any one of them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” she stressed. “We needed every single one—their expertise, their involvement, their resources.
“They just helped us along so much.”
And by handing out nearly 20 awards, Armit said it “shows the basis of a healthy community—and a good basis to grow on.”
“When a community can work together and put their resources together—their human resources, their financial resources, their expertise, everything together—we have the basis to build a strong community,” she reasoned.
“And we don’t want to lose any one of those pieces.”
“I was very impressed to see the number of people who were out in support of the evening and helping us to recognize those supporting seniors and their families,” said Fort Frances OPP Cst. Anne McCoy.
“I’m encouraged that there is that amount of support, so it tells me that the S.A.L.T. team is working towards meeting the needs of the community.”
Armit said the theme of the gala inspired seniors—and many had some fun wearing their fancy and unique hats during the event.
“I think it’s very exciting to see how the community is getting mobilized,” she enthused. “And it was good to see the mix of people there and the involvement of seniors.”
And both Laur and Armit praised the keynote address by OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis, who spoke about leadership and volunteerism.
“It was dead-on with our thinking,” Armit noted.
“It was excellent,” echoed Laur. “Everyone I have talked to thinks it was really inspiring.”
“I want to thank the volunteers for their commitment,” Commissioner Lewis said in his speech, adding he’s happy the OPP can partner with the group to solve problems.
“I was very impressed with what I read in preparation for this,” the Sault Ste. Marie native noted.
“All leaders in a community have drive, tenacity, and optimism, and you have these [qualities] or you wouldn’t be here,” he remarked, saying they influence a group of people towards a common goal.
“Leaders build a fire and passion in your belly,” he continued. “And inspire you to be the best you can be.”
Commissioner Lewis indicated leaders don’t have to hold rank—they just have to be people that others want to follow.
“And that is what you do as volunteers,” he said.
“I’m optimistic about the future of the OPP, S.A.L.T., and their future together.”
Commissioner Lewis also told those on hand that while there was speculation he only attended the gala because he was in the area for the opening of the new Dryden OPP detachment, he assured everyone that was not the case.
He said he had first planned to attend the gala and the detachment opening was scheduled around that.
“So that tells our community that he has very high regard for the work being done in the Rainy River District,” noted Cst. McCoy.
Those presented Community Partner Awards were the OPP, Northwestern Health Unit, Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., the Canadian Mental Health Association—Older Adults Program, and the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board.
Network Awards were presented to the United Native Friendship Centre, the Fort Frances Legal Clinic, Rainy River District Victims Services Program, the Town of Fort Frances, and Meals on Wheels.
Super 8 Hotel was presented with a Business Partner Award while the Fort Frances Times, 93.1 The Border, and the Westend Weekly took home Media Awards.
Meanwhile, Becky Holden, a former employee of the Northwestern Health Unit who was involved in the beginnings of S.A.L.T. but has since moved to a new position, was honoured with an individual award for all her hard work.
As well, district couple Jim and Davetta Sheppard received a volunteer award while Ruth Caldwell and Brenda Wood (of Atikokan) also took one home.
Entertainment was provided by Wayne and Danette MacIntyre of “Entirely Mac.”
“We set our sights really high on putting together an evening that demonstrated recognition but also awareness,” noted Cst. McCoy.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much organizations do strive to support seniors, but also what type of resources are available to us. . . .
“We do have a lot of great things to celebrate in our district and that’s what I think the night was for.
“I’m really proud of our team,” she added. “We’ve got some great leadership, positive energy, and some very optimistic individuals that move that group forward, so I’m encouraged.”
Cst. McCoy conceded it took a lot of work and planning to stage the “Hats Off to Seniors” gala.
“But without the support of all the community partners that came out, and the members of the community and the volunteers, without everyone taking a piece of the pie and chipping in, it wouldn’t have been such a great success,” she stressed.
“So I’m really happy to see that everyone came out, supported, and participated.
“And we look forward to the next one,” said Cst. McCoy, noting while they are hoping to hold a similar event next year, it might take on a different format.
“We might change it up a little bit because it’s always good to shake things up a little, as the S.A.L.T. shakers put it,” she smiled.

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