By Stuart Alcock – When I joined the Board of 411 in 2012, I expected the duties would be straightforward much like other boards. I was wrong! As I leave the Board, I reflect on what I learned.

There was a lot to discover. As the plan for a new centre emerged, we met with architects, designers, and lawyers. This required reading and understanding draft legal agreements, reports on the progress of construction, and monitoring detailed financial projections and reports, all new languages to me. I discovered that we had to get the permits: Development, Building, and finally for Occupancy.

I spent four years on the Council of Advisors to the Seniors Advocate and one on the City of Vancouver’s Seniors Advisory Committee. These experiences and reports from the 411 Information and Referral volunteers, made me more aware and concerned about the issues that too many seniors face: income; housing; a full range of health, dental, vision and hearing care; and difficulties springing from the emphasis on computer technology. There is much to be done to address these.

Also, I started spotting interesting news items about how seniors can live well. Exercise and nutrition are always important but those of us who read books may live two years longer than people who do not. Having supportive family and friends is important to living longer but so is just simply interacting with other people on a daily basis such as neighbours and shopkeepers. I conclude is that we thrive if we stay socially engaged. What better place to this than a seniors’ centre.

Ten years as a 411 Board member has shown me that 411 is more valuable than I first thought. The Income Tax Clinic and the Information and Referral service are important as help for people. On top of that, group activities such as yoga, Zumba, language lessons, playing music, singing, book clubs, art classes and so on are places of being with others and having fun and interesting conversations. Seniors’ centres are good for us so I’m planning on staying involved. See you around!

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