Gary Slaight, Daniele Zanotti, Emmanuelle Gattuso, and Beth Wilson hold an #UNIGNORABLE poster representing social isolation, at United Way's AGM — photo credit: Nicholas Jones.
Gary Slaight, Daniele Zanotti, Emmanuelle Gattuso, and Beth Wilson hold an #UNIGNORABLE poster representing social isolation, at United Way's AGM — photo credit: Nicholas Jones.

Q&A: United Way VP On How Slaight Family’s $15 Million Gift Will Further Assist Seniors

Not every senior wants to play bridge or bingo. Not every senior wants to use a walker or scooter. Some still drive but have little or no family nearby, and no one to visit. Mobile or not, many are lonely and just want companionship. Others are infirmed, unable to clean their home, cook a meal, or get to a doctor’s appointment.

The Slaight Family Foundation’s recent $15 million donation for the creation of The Allan Slaight Seniors Fund — named after the family patriarch who long supported the United Way and volunteered for nine years with the Board of Directors, starting in 1979 — will be administered over six years by the United Way Greater Toronto to help expand existing programs and create new ones.

The last census by Statistics Canada, released in 2017, enumerated more seniors, 65 and up (5.9 million) than children 14 years and younger (5.8 million), and the gap between the number of seniors and children is growing, according to stats released in January 2019.

According to the American Psychological Association, “loneliness and social isolation may represent a greater public health hazard than obesity, and their impact has been growing and will continue to grow,” it read in a 2017 press release, based on the AARP’s (formerly the American Association of Retired Person) Loneliness Study and census data about homelife and marital status. In Ontario, seniors are the fastest-growing age population, whose numbers are expected to double by 2041. 

The United Way, which aims to improves the lives “for everyone in our communities,” not just seniors, has over 80 offices across Canada, each registered as its own non-profit organization. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) office is connected to more than 270 agencies to cover and serve all neighbourhoods.

Samaritanmag spoke with Ruth Crammond, vice-president, community investment and development, for United Way Greater Toronto about the specific needs of seniors and how the Slaight family’s enormous gift will further allow the organization to help them. -- Continue reading the Karen Bliss Q&A on the Samaritanmag website.

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