In April 2020, when physical distancing made connecting with others almost impossible,
Reaching Seniors in Old Ottawa South (RSOOS) set out to create an online community built
as a speaker series.
A 2019 grant proposal to ‘New Horizons for Seniors’ was successfully obtained in early
2020, with the original plan being Senior’s Lunches in Trinity’s Canterbury Room. We
wanted to have a twice-monthly catered lunch, with a speaker, access to computers and a
resource library creating a safe space for relationship building and community connections.
The pandemic challenged us to implement our original plan but in a new virtual space.
Trinity’s Sunday Services had already pivoted to online through the Zoom Platform. Seniors
soon proved their capability and comfort with this form of being church together. In fact,
many parishioners were, for the first time, in relationship with others who they had not
spoken to before. Sunday morning coffee hour conversations happened before the service as
people took advantage of joining the service at 9:30 anticipating a 10am start.
On a Tuesday morning last June 2020, we launched ‘Seniors in Conversation’. We spread the
word throughout Old Ottawa South and beyond. We hoped and even suspected but had no
idea just how popular and ultimately important this online discussion group would become to
older adults far and wide. We have become a community when community seemed an
impossible concept during isolation.
The ‘Speaker Series’ has welcomed a variety of interesting guests. After an informative talk,
participants are invited to ask questions, share thoughts and experiences. Animated
discussions have become the norm.
The Conversation community is an inclusive place for sharing. The combined intellect
amongst participants is vast creating stimulating discussions. Sharing and laughter is an
important element that brings people back each week.
There is always something to learn, people to meet and friends to make. An idea that created
community gave us an opportunity to connect. Even as restrictions are lifted, it is believed
there will always be a need to gather from the comfort of one’s home.
Heather Maclachlan, Lead Volunteer for Seniors at Trinity Church