Sally – When we have each other, anything is possible

By tackling seniors’ isolation, we’re building stronger communities

Sally Buchanan is 89 years old and lives alone in Mission, B.C., a district municipality in the Fraser Valley nestled against a coastal mountain slope. As housing prices across the Lower Mainland soar, Mission is becoming home to a growing number of seniors like her.


“Lots of people come to Mission to retire because it’s more affordable,” explains Raman Narang, program coordinator for senior services at Mission Community Services Society.

Like many seniors living on their own, Sally doesn’t have a lot of visitors. While Sally receives the occasional phone call, it’s a quiet life.

“I’m an only child,” she shrugs. Her husband, who she loved dearly, died 30 years ago. “I’m used to being on my own.”

Because of Mission’s mountainous backdrop, the local streets are hilly. It’s not easy to get around, and people live some distance from one another. “Social isolation is a big problem,” Raman says. “People don’t want to get out, exercise, or go to community events.”

Mustering the energy to get out of the house can be daunting for anyone at any stage of life. But that’s especially true for seniors facing mobility challenges, who are living on fixed incomes, or who aren’t always able to access transportation.

We’re living in a time of urgent need for our eldest citizens.

For the first time in Canadian history, the oldest in our society are now outnumbering the youngest. At the same time, more Canadians are living alone than ever, including seniors. Without adequate supports, seniors are at risk of vulnerability in isolation.

Seniors need community-based supports to re-establish their rightful place in the communities they’ve shaped and built over years.

That’s where United Way goes to work—in both its unique community-based programs tackling seniors isolation, and in a new neighbourhood-based approach to building stronger communities that empowers local citizens to work together on the issues that matter most to them.

Because we believe people don’t live in programs. They live in neighbourhoods and communities where everyone’s well-being is connected.

United Way’s Seniors’ Active Aging programs combine physical and social activities to help vulnerable seniors improve their quality of life.

You can give more seniors like Sally the chance to not just survive, but also come alive.

Unleash your local love. Please give today.

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United Way supporters who engage in acts of local love through their donations make these programs and this vital community-building work possible.

Sally started attending Active Aging exercise classes a few months ago, after she broke her hip. United Way donors have made it possible for Mission Community Services Society to provide free transportation to seniors to and from their programs, which means they are not left to navigate Mission’s hilly roads alone.

“The moving I’m doing has really helped me,” Sally says. “Prior to breaking my hip I would go to the pool and do my own thing. After, I didn’t bother.” Now, after regaining her strength through the Active Aging program, she’s been able to go to the pool again. And she even rode an exercise bike in the gym, a milestone for a person recovering from a broken hip.

“It’s helped me start over,” she says.

United Way donors fuel life-changing work. When over 25,000 local seniors say they don’t have anyone to talk to, the Active Aging program connects seniors with supportive community networks that help them maintain crucial social connections and active lifestyles. All of this helps them be as healthy as they can, for as long as possible.

By supporting United Way, you’re telling seniors, “You are valued. You are seen. Your well-being is connected to all of ours.”


There are many more seniors who we’ve yet to reach, and who can benefit from United Way’s Active Aging programs and its neighbourhood-based work that builds local resilience in communities like Sally’s.

It’s an exciting time to give to United Way. Your gift has dramatic impact. It will help connect more seniors with Active Aging Programs, and it will also help United Way launch a new, neighbourhood-based approach to building stronger, more resilient communities.

This new approach marks a bold step forward in the evolution of United Way, which will be working with communities to identify the urgent local issues that citizens are best positioned to tackle. Issues that can’t be addressed with programs alone—like social isolation and care for one another. These types of issues make or break whether a community is able to provide safety and inclusiveness to its residents. And United Way is bringing its expertise and partnerships to the table to help citizens address their concerns.

Creating opportunities for citizens to show up, roll up their sleeves, and work together to address their most pressing local concerns is a powerful way of building communities that lift us all up. Imagine what could be possible if Sally knew her neighbours had a stake in her well-being—and those neighbours were ready to work together at ensuring Sally had what she needed to be healthy and happy.

With almost 90 years of experience working in and with communities, United Way is uniquely positioned to build a groundswell of support for issues that matter most to local citizens in its new neighbourhood-based approach to building stronger communities.

Because people don’t live in programs; they live in neighbourhoods like Sally’s, where her livelihood is connected to all of ours.

So much is possible when we work together, with great love.

Help seniors re-establish their rightful place in our communities.

Show your local love. Donate today.


Active Aging programs are supported in partnership between the Active Aging Research Team, United Way of the Lower Mainland and British Columbia’s Ministry of Health.

Help seniors like Sally gain life saving connections.

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Tracy GreenSally