Take time to celebrate our seniors this week

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the event throughout the province

BY MAYOR STEVE CHRISTIE

It’s Seniors’ Week, and on behalf of City council, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge and celebrate our seniors for their many important contributions to our City.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of this event, which honours a vital, vigorous group of people who are involved in every aspect of our community, and are valued partners in shaping the future of our City.

Seniors’ Week is an opportunity to acknowledge the diversity of Lacombe’s seniors and to show our appreciation for the vital role they play in our society. It is an opportunity to bring together people of all ages to recognize and thank our seniors for their ongoing contributions to the betterment of our community.

We have all known a senior who has made a difference in our lives.

Everyday, seniors in Lacombe make a big difference in our community. They are mentors, teachers, grandparents and loved ones. They are important volunteers and role models. They are community leaders, neighbours and co-workers their influence is prevalent throughout our City.

Did you know that many of our seniors continue to work well beyond the traditional retirement age of 64? In fact, in 2011 the National Household Survey found that workers aged 55 and over represented 18.7% of total employment in Canada.

Their collective experience and wisdom has been described as one of our province’s most respected and valuable resources, and I believe that the benefits of their hindsight is vital to our future success.

They have lived through some of the toughest challenges in our nation’s history. They fought to protect our rights and freedoms in times of war; struggled for voting rights for women during the Suffrage movement; survived the devastating drought and poverty of the Great Depression.

In spite of the many hardships faced, this great generation continued to move forward, had helped build a progressive, diverse and multicultural nation, known around the world for its bravery and heroism in the face of tyranny and compassion for the suffering of others.

Today, our seniors are among the most tireless and committed volunteers, who lend their time and talents, skills and knowledge for the benefit of Albertans of all ages.

In 2007, 41% of Alberta’s seniors were active participants of some form of volunteer work compared to the national average of 36%.

According to the Canadian Association of Re-energized Persons, seniors contributed 179 million hours to volunteer agencies. The economic value to our communities is thought to be $60.2 billion each year.

Statistics Canada reported that in 2007 approximately 84% of Alberta seniors supported charities with financial donations. With an annual donation amount of $738, they contributed significantly more than the national average annual amount of $611.

Seniors directly contribute to the economic and social well-being of our community through the transfer of wealth to family members, shared accommodation with their children and grandchildren, and one in 10 grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.

Our seniors also provide support to family members and friends with everything from child minding, cooking meals for neighbours in need, helping friends with household chores, transport to appointments, and visitations at hospitals. It’s their good neighbour policy that stands out for me when I look at seniors as a whole.

I have come to admire the strength of character and the compassionate caring shown everyday by our seniors, and I am grateful for the many seniors who have offered me the benefit of their experiences and insights to help make wiser decisions that will ensure a brighter, more sustainable future for us all.

On behalf of council, the City, and residents of Lacombe, I extend a heartfelt thank you to our seniors for all they do, and for demonstrating that life can be vigorous and vital in our later years. Let’s take the time to celebrate seniors and show our appreciation for everything they do.

Steve Christie is the mayor of Lacombe.