BMO Bank barbecue to support SOS program
The Camrose Bank of Montreal will be holding a barbecue in its back (north) parking lot from 11 to 2 this Thursday to support the Service Options for Seniors program.
"We decided as a staff that SOS is a great program and one to which we can refer some of our clients," said Bank of Montreal Camrose branch manager Cathy Schwab.
The Camrose Bank of Montreal has been conducting charity events for the last 15 years.
"We like to support local charities that support not only our customers but the community in which we work," said Bank of Montreal staff member Nicole Hanson. "To us, events like these are the best way to provide a direct support to the people that we see every day."
Established in 2003, the Service Options for Seniors Program offers information and advocacy to seniors, handicapped, individuals with literacy barriers, low income persons, and their families on accessing needed programs, services and supports locally, provincially and federally.
"We have about 3,000 people who come through our door for various reasons every year, with 600 of those coming for help with their income tax," said SOS program executive director Donna Coombs. "When I started here that number was 540 a year."
Coombs said that as far as she knows, the SOS program is the only one of its kind in Alberta.
"Because we are non-profit and not a government agency, we can assist with federal programs, provincial programs and municipal programs. We are not tied to a certain one."
Coombs talks to several seniors' organizations on the services offered by SOS, as well as the steps they can take to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
"I show a DVD that was put out by the Alberta Council on Aging in which a retired police officer talks about Power of Attorney theft, identity theft, home improvement frauds, internet theft and telemarketing," she said. "I stop the video between the different sections so that people can ask any questions they might have."
SOS also sponsors twice a year community information sessions in which it brings in guests to the Royal Canadian Legion to talk about various issues facing seniors. Presenters this past year included Jim Darwish, from the Elder Advocates of Alberta, who addressed the increasing cost of long term care, and Dr. Val Smith, who spoke about the work she does with people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. The next presentation will be in January, 2013, by two doctors from Edmonton, who will talk about macular degeneration.
Coombs is happy with the feedback she has received on the SOS program over the years.
"A lot of people tell me they don't know where they would be if they hadn't come to SOS and that the program has helped to take the weight of the world off their shoulders. I estimate there are only five per cent of the people who walk through the doors that the program hasn't been able to help."