Tag: seniors charity
At the end of each year, I always take some time to reflect for myself. I picture where we started the year, see how far we have come over the past 12 months, and think about everything we have achieved. To say the least, 2017 has been a year of a lot of changes and growth for GEF Seniors Housing as a whole.
We have a lot to be proud of from the work done over 2017. GEF Seniors Housing is continually evolving, growing, and finding better and more creative ways to provide seniors with housing options that are friendly, affordable, and secure. Here are a few highlights from this past year.
It’s been just over a year now since Sakaw Terrace broke ground and the construction process has been going remarkably smooth. Sakaw Terrace is well on its way to being completed and opening its doors in early 2019. Most of the concrete has been poured, the structural steel has been erected, and suites are beginning to be framed.
Canora Gardens is opening its door in 2018 and we’re accepting applications for seniors to move in and call this west-end building home. We stripped the suites right down to the studs, upgraded all the mechanical and fire protection systems, and re-designed the building to better accommodate senior living.
We held our second Elmwood community consultation meeting and despite the cold wind and snowfall, we still had 90 people fill the Elmwood Community Hall and share their thoughts on the initial architectural drawings provided by Jonathan Rockliff of RPK Architects. The ideas expressed at this meeting are being brought to the planning committees for the Elmwood building project and being included in many of the conversations that will eventually result in this new seniors housing building in Edmonton’s west-end.
Our fundraising efforts saw some significant contributions over 2017. This past April, the Building for Life Breakfast Fundraiser saw more than 300 members of the community and donate more than $80,000 towards Sakaw Terrace. GEF Seniors Housing is still collecting donations to go towards new capital building projects in the City of Edmonton so that no senior ever has to worry about where they will call home.
The team of volunteers we have with GEF Seniors Housing is second to none and works incredibly hard to continually improve the lives of seniors who call our buildings home. In 2017, more than 1,300 individuals gave GEF Seniors Housing close to 60,000 hours of volunteer time. Thank you to all of our volunteers for the time and effort you give to improve the quality of life for so many people.
In November, we learned that GEF Seniors Housing was once again named one of the Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada (BSME). Our receiving this distinguished honour is a direct result of a staff survey hosted by Aon Hewitt and Canadian Business magazine. We were placed in the Platinum category, the highest designation an organization can receive. It’s always exhilarating to see our name among so many other amazing organizations and knowing that the people who work with GEF Seniors Housing make such a concerted effort to keep this place somewhere amazing to work.
Thank you to everyone who makes up the GEF Seniors Housing community for another amazing year. The staff who work with us, the seniors who call our buildings home, the like-minded organizations who we partner with, and the neighbourhoods who welcome us and know the value of affordable housing all played part in what made 2017 another amazing year.
Every April, GEF Seniors Housing holds its Building for Life Breakfast Fundraiser, which is the Foundation’s biggest event of the year. In 2016, GEF Seniors Housing raised more than $100,000 in sponsorships and donations from this single fundraising breakfast.
“We work with a lot of different contractors and consultants and other companies to help our Foundation,” says GEF Seniors Housing CEO Raymond Swonek. “The Building for Life Breakfast Fundraiser helps remind our business networks and community connections that we are a registered charity and donations that we receive go towards new seniors housing building projects in Edmonton.”
The Building for Life Breakfast Fundraiser is just one fundraising activity that GEF Seniors Housing holds during the year. In addition, GEF Seniors Housing also participates in larger casino events and holds the Building for Life Raffle held every summer. Charitable fundraising for new building projects is important to GEF Seniors Housing because of the changing seniors demographics Edmonton is currently facing and how the seniors population will only be increasing in the coming years.
“We often talk about the statistics showing that there will be more than one million seniors living in Alberta in less than 15 years and it can be hard to picture what that number really means,” explains Swonek. “The current population of Edmonton is around one million people. So imagine the entire population of Edmonton all being seniors. That’s the population boom we’re looking at. Using our Building for Life Fund, we plan to build more housing options for seniors to meet that need.”
In addition to the population boom of seniors in Alberta, the proportion of seniors needing affordable housing is increasing at a rapid pace. The cost of living increases faster than pensions, leaving many seniors unable to afford even the most basic of apartments. Swonek points out that the average senior living on a Government pension alone brings home around $1,800 a month and, to remain above the poverty line, that senior should only be putting 30 per cent of their income towards housing.
“That would mean seniors living on Government pension alone would have to pay around $540 a month in rent to stay above the poverty line,” says Swonek. “In Edmonton’s housing market, that’s simply not possible. We want to make sure that low to moderate income seniors can enjoy their golden years without worrying about high housing costs that are only increasing.”
Anyone can donate to GEF Seniors Housing at any time, but the fundraising events become important as bigger opportunities to remind people why GEF Seniors Housing wants to build more housing in Edmonton and why these buildings are essential parts of so many communities. In 2016, fundraising efforts were concentrated on supporting Sakaw Terrace, GEF Seniors Housing’s newest building project in Edmonton’s Mill Woods area. This year sees the same focus for GEF Seniors Housing’s fundraising effort and with Sakaw Terrace’s construction already well underway, Swonek is looking even further into the future.
“We saw so much success in the past with buildings like Rosslyn Terrace and Ottewell Terrace that I’m excited to see what we can achieve with future building projects,” says Swonek. “I’ve always believed that we’re only as strong as those who support us. We’ve been so lucky to see support from so many amazing Edmontonians and I hope that we can keep this level of support because there are a lot of seniors depending on it for an affordable place to call home.”