The Pat Porter Active Living Centre has had a tough year, but the executive director says they're still doing their best to serve local seniors.

Audrey Harder was invited to make a presentation at a city council committee meeting this past week to give an update. Heading into 2020, Harder says everything was going well.

"I think the important thing that we want to remember here is that it started out on a really high note. We had our highest memberships, our highest rentals, our highest income, everything was going well until March. When COVID hit, everything changed and we had to really work hard at getting grants trying to make sure that we could be here."

Audrey HarderHarder says they would typically need $150K in rentals every year. She says grants were able to cover most of their needs, however, she notes they did need to they have had to make some sacrifices. As an example, she say they sold their billiards tables in order to renovate that room for future rentals.

Harder says the year has also been emotionally draining.

"The month of November was one of our most difficult months, we lost 9 of our members to COVID-19 and several others to a variety of other health issues. It was really tough and as a staff team, we are really close and I think this has brought us closer. We have to help each other get through those things and work hard at trying to see the positive."

Through this all, Harder says their staff has spent many hours on the phone with their members over the last few months. She notes they are doing their best to keep seniors connected.

"One of our grants had iPads and with the iPad, we could borrow them out and we can help people learn how to use iPads, we can connect them with our families 1 on 1. We also provide check-in calls, make sure people are eating well, we have our Meals on Wheels program that has been going on the whole time, and basically we're trying to figure out new ways to connect. We have been using Zoom for some of our programming."

The Pat Porter Active Living Centre has also been used as a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site. Harder says this has been a very positive fit.

"The pop-up clinic has been amazing. It is who we are, it is what we want to do. We want to get the community going, we want to support people through it, so we have helped a lot of people book their appointments, prepare their documents and just assist people with everything they need to make it happen. We've been calling members we know who don't have access to internet service and saying 'hey, this is how you do it, do you need any help?"

Harder adds, the pop-up clinics have also provided much-needed revenue as they have been renting the space.

Mayor Earl Funk says council really appreciated the presentation. He notes the Pat Porter Active Living Centre is an important organization in the community.

"Many of our seniors are alone or they are shut-in and this is what is so good. We are so thankful that we have an organization like the Pat Porter Active Living Centre that is actually investing in that segment of the population."