Ruth Scoullar and Susan MacNeill run a Secret Santa program for seniors in need in conjunction with the Quesnel Cariboo Observer each Christmas, as part of their work with the Seniors Advocacy Service. Annie Gallant/Observer file photo

Quesnel’s SAS launches new Life After 60 program

It will provide seniors the help they need to cover “medical priorities” they otherwise can’t afford

Quesnel’s Seniors Advocacy Service is launching its new program, Life After 60, on Friday, May 24 in Spirit Square.

The launch will happen during the organization’s 15-year anniversary celebration in Spirit Square.

Susan MacNeill, who started the Seniors Advocacy Service (SAS) with Ruth Scoullar 15 years ago now, says the Life After 60 program is geared toward helping seniors afford “medical priorities,” like dental care, eye glasses, hearing aids, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, wheelchairs, walkers and more.

“We are trying to pick up the slack where we can for people that just don’t have enough left at the end of the month to pay for, like, a dental filling or glasses or a big bottle of Tylenol,” says MacNeill.

MacNeill first came up with an idea for the program when she saw an ad for a similar children’s charity on the TV in December 2017.

Watching the ad, MacNeill realized there was nothing like it for seniors in the area. After some thought, she brought it to the group at the SAS, and the group decided to pursue it.

Since then, the organization has been fundraising and organizing.

READ MORE: Quesnel student’s poster second in all of B.C.

Seniors will be able to start applying for help from the program in September, and there will be a committee to determine which applicants get support.

Support will be given on the basis of need. “It’s [based on] what [seniors] have at the end of the month, available to [them].”

McNeill adds that while there are many programs for seniors, including specific groups like veterans, not everything is covered, and there are many who are simply not receiving those supports at all.

She says over the years, many people have come to SAS requiring things like walkers and hearing aids — and other items that will now be covered as medical priorities through Life After 60.

The program is currently being supported by donations from several local businesses; however, MacNeill says SAS is planning to start a local lottery in order to sustain it. She says the lottery will have a “substantial” prize, and within the next two years, she’s hoping it will become a provincial lottery, allowing the program to expand beyond just Quesnel. “We see this growing bigger because of the need,” says MacNeill.

She says the program has already seen some support coming from Williams Lake as well.

Another goal MacNeill has for the lottery is that it will also allow them to help out with covering the per-diem price of hospice for those in need.

SAS is holding the program launch during the organization’s 15-year anniversary on Friday, May 24, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Spirit Square. There will be cake, and Granville’s coffee will be served at the event.

“We’ve done lots of amazing things in Quesnel with minimal funding,” says MacNeill. “So we’re really pleased with everything we’ve been able to do.”

She adds: “We’re so excited. We’re just really, really excited about it.”

Heather Norman
Community Reporter
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