BWAN is managed by the infamous Vickie Rennie. “Everyone knows Vickie” is not an understatement. Everyone passing Vicky says a cheery hello and how are you. Even throughout our conversation at her office in 200 Wellesley, the people who walked past her open door yelled their greetings from the corridor. Vickie founded BWAN thirty-one years ago after an eye opening account revealed how vulnerable isolated seniors were and how this had become a severe problem in St. James Town. Her efforts to create a safe environment and foster a sense of belonging, allowing a place and space for seniors to connect with one another, has grown over the years. What started as a quarterly high tea has developed into a multi-program agency which organises arts and crafts, days out, and events such as the ‘For the Love of Seniors’. Being a full-time caregiver for many years to her grandmother and mother, Vickie has been able to get a real insight into the challenges seniors face on a day-to-day basis. Vickie pays particular attention to details which allow seniors from all backgrounds to feel welcome. She ensures that posters for the ‘For the Love of Seniors’ event are written not only in English but also Tamil, Ethiopian, and Chinese. Although her humble nature confessed that “It is only four languages but it reaches the bigger parts of the population here”, real credit needs to be given to the effort that Vickie brings to each and every venture. When asked what keeps her motivated to give back to the community after so many years, Vickie said simply that “I do enjoy it”. Her love for helping others combined with a bit of friendly attitude, which allows her to stand her ground, has resulted in a legacy which should be remembered for the years to come.
So, thank you Vickie for putting your heart into this community. And thank you also to all of her incredible and dedicated volunteers who helped make the running of the ‘For the Love of Seniors’ so smooth.
Thanks also must be given to the organisations who took the time to give information to the seniors:
Sherbourne Health Centre (both the diabetes clinic and all information otherwise), Dixon Hall, Progress Place, The Corner, C.A.M.H, Emergency Medical Services, The Neighbourhood Group Vulnerable Seniors Program, Central Neighbourhood House, Alzheimer Toronto, Toronto Fire Services, A1 Dental, Toronto Police Services – 51 Division, Hospice Toronto, Society of Sharing, Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships
And a special thanks to the Pushmitha and Jeethika from Lakshya Dance Academy at St. James Town