Sudbury’s Parkside Centre is preparing to reopen

Sudbury's Parkside Centre, which offers programs to those ages 50 and older and younger people with a disability, is preparing to reopen.

It’s been a difficult year and a half for the staff and members of the Parkside Centre. They’ve only been able to offer services online, but in a few short weeks, the doors will be open to seniors again.

“I know we have some very regular people who come in almost every day and I think a lot of those would have not ever taken a break,” said John Richer, manager of the Parkside Centre. “There’s a lot of people who are sort of at their end with the lockdowns and shutdowns and they really need more human contact.”

As a way to interact with members, staff created a virtual program called Without Walls.

“We offer our programs over the Internet through Zoom, or Facebook live or that sort of thing. We also have telephone-only options for people who don’t have computer access,” said Richer. “So, we have those programs going on weekly.

Richer said the virtual programs will still be an option once the centre reopens.

In the past year and a half, the centre said it has seen more than 1,300 people access the virtual programs. One of those members is Delores Higgins. She has been a member at the Parkside a Centre for more than two decades.

Higgins said when the pandemic initially hit, it was hard, but the virtual programs helped her and many others to avoid feeling isolated.

“It’s been a Godsend, and I say that on behalf of a lot of seniors that I’ve talked to, including myself, because we were so isolated and have been with the lockdowns, the openings, things closed forever it seems and it’s like a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Higgins.

One of the programs she has taken part in is called Coffee Talk.

“I could be talking to someone from Timmins, or from Garson and I may never meet them, but yet we’re talking like old friends and I think it’s very helpful and very healthy for us seniors that are sort of locked in,” she said.

The centre is set to reopen on Oct. 1 and everyone attending must be fully vaccinated.