Monday, December 20, 2010

It Can Get Lonely Out in the Cold

This is the time of year people remember to donate to good causes, add cans to the FoodBank hampers or give blankets to the homeless even if they're usually too busy to remember. The "season" has a way of reminding us about those who do with less.

Allow me to remind you of a segment of society that often gets overlooked - the elderly. The ones who "do for themselves" and can easily pass through our days unnoticed. My neighbours and I have a Watch Network set up which makes sure that the elderly and infirm in our area are contacted at least once a day and visited multiple times each week. It doesn't take much effort and it makes the ones we visit feel less "alone". This year we're making potluck Christmas Eve dinners and taking them to a few houses and apartments where we know the residents don't have family or friends to acknowledge them.

Our Watch Network operates year round and it makes us feel good - even the kids get involved. So I'm suggesting to you that if you can and you have elderly neighbours - check in on them. I think you'll both be glad you did. :)

This post was inspired by the following story in a local paper. I was upset to think that nobody in that apartment building had thought to knock on this man's door and just make sure everything was OK but I suspect they all just got busy and assumed that somebody else was doing it.

A pair of Victoria police officers played Good Samaritans to a 95-year-old man who was discovered living alone in an apartment without heat or lighting, despite having thousands of dollars in uncashed pension cheques.

Constables Jan Malinosky and Rebecca Pollock responded to a 911 call from a “confused elderly male” in the Hillside Shopping Centre area on Thursday afternoon. The officers found the man in good condition, but with no heat or lighting in his apartment.

The officers — Pollock is just three weeks out of training, while Malinosky has about 10 years on the job — checked with B.C. Hydro, and discovered the man was behind on his payments.

Yet a quick look around his apartment revealed that he had a number of uncashed pension cheques “in the area of thousands of dollars,” said Staff Sgt. Kerry Panton, who supervises the officers’ shift.

The officers got the man to write out a cheque to B.C. Hydro, deposited his pension money in the bank for him, paid his bill and arranged for a victims services worker to sit with him until an emergency crew restored the power.

The following night, the officers went back to check on the man, and took him some groceries.

“He was cosy,” Panton said.

Meanwhile, police alerted agencies to make sure someone checks on the man and determines if it is safe for him to be living alone, and to ensure he receives proper care.

Panton praised his officers’ compassionate and “outstanding” work on the file.

“It’s what we often do — the side that people don’t see,” he said.

Police hope to find the man’s family. But if they are unsuccessful, he will not be forgotten over the holiday, Panton said. “If he’s alone on Christmas night, A Watch is working again, so we’ll make sure he’s got Christmas dinner.”

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


Whispers Magic said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

Cheer for the Victoria police! that is a wonderful story, Honour. Thanks for sharing it!