Diana Wallan (on right) with Dorothy Dufour (on left) attending the Friendly Visiting Program Christmas luncheon.
Dorothy Dufour, aged 88 was born in Surrey, and has lived in many BC locals, plus six years in Quebec. She graduated high school in Vancouver. “Mine is the usual story. I have outlived my family. Friends can’t visit because they no longer have licenses to drive.” Dorothy retired seven
years ago to a lower suite in Abbotsford with her youngest daughter and son in law who live upstairs. “They all work, so I find myself very much alone. Mine was a busy life, raising four children in Delta,” Dorothy said. “I now have the added handicap of having lost all sense of balance, and not being able to garden, or use my hands very much. I’m also a widow and we all know how difficult it is for seniors to make new friends.
“The Friendly Visiting Program has been wonderful for me and is much appreciated,” Dorothy Said.
The Friendly Visiting Program is run through Abbotsford Association for Healthy Aging and is in its 28th year of matching volunteers with seniors who could use a friend. Senior clients of this program include everyone from people participating in various social activities- to those who are confined to their homes because of illness or lack of family support. They all have in common a desire to share a bond with someone. Having a friend cuts the risk of social isolation down a great deal. Many of the seniors have no family members living nearby or they have sons and daughters who are working full-time jobs and raising their own families. Referrals for this program come from the Health Authority, friends, neighbors, and children. Knowing that someone is checking in on an elderly parent-most of whom are in their late 80’s and 90’s-and providing companionship helps relieve the burden and guilt of not being able to be there as much as one would like.
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” — Albert Camus
It’s not only the senior clients who gain from the match, volunteers get just as much out of the relationship. Many of them live far away from their own parents or have parents who are deceased.
“It has been such a pleasure to get to get to know Dorothy. She is a delight to have as a friend. My husband and I had recently moved to Mission, after being missionaries in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. As I didn’t know many people here, having lived for many years in Surrey and then Bolivia, I felt I wanted to get to know and meet new friends. While in a restaurant one day, I noticed an advertisement in a paper looking for volunteers to visit older people who are unable to get out much. When I saw this, I knew this is something that I would like to do. I have so enjoyed getting to know Dorothy and look forward to many more visits with her. I see this program as a real encouragement and blessing, not only to the ones visited but an equal blessing to those of us who are the visitors,” Diana said.
The Friendly Visiting Program has been running in Abbotsford since 1989. Many pairs get together weekly but there is no required time commitment. Nor are there any specific guidelines to what activities the matches can do together. Some volunteers visit the seniors in their homes, while others go out together. Volunteers receive some training and, of course, there is the pre-requisite of a criminal record check, but the main requirement is to have a desire to foster a beautiful friendship and connection with a senior.
“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water -it will make ripples throughout the entire pond…” ― Jessy and Bryan Matteo
Volunteers for the Friendly Visitor Program, both men and women, are always needed to meet the waiting list of seniors looking for a special friend and visitor.
For more information about the Friendly Visiting Program, call 604.854.1733 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org