Saturday, June 27, 2009

City volunteers colour a senior citizen's world

Some City workers teamed-up on this sunny Saturday to help out a local senior by splashing a new coat of paint on her house and fence as part of the “Colour Their World” program.

“It’s wonderful – they’re such nice people and so helpful,” said senior Shirley Bortnak as she walked around her southwest Calgary home watching the bustling painters - “It looks great.”

Bortnak is on the receiving end of The City of Calgary's City Links program that helps eligible senior homeowners maintain their independence with free home maintenance services such as basic yard care, snow shovelling, house cleaning, house painting and minor repair services.

The labour is done either by volunteers as part of City Links' “Colour their world” program or through the employment and training section, which according to, “provides a safe and supportive work environment for individuals with life challenges to receive paid work experience, personal counselling, employment preparation counselling, as well as life management, work and technical skills training.”

“It’s fantastic,” said Bortnak, “I give them a call and they come out and help me . . . I want to give them all a big hug.”

Today, the volunteers are members of The City’s Senior Services division.

Barb Biggs, a community social worker with The City, said the opportunity affords workers the chance to mingle outside of work while helping somebody else - she also gets to see first-hand, all the work her team does in the community.

“It’s a grand day - a good cause, good people, lots of fun – and I’m learning to paint!” she said.
Rick Kanik, Senior Services manager, said "it’s great to not only give something back to the community, but it’s a wonderful teambuilding event too."

“It’s easy, everything is already set-up and ready to go, we just come here and paint and have a good time,” he said.

According to the City of Calgary, and Statistics Canada:
  • There are approximately 107,000 seniors in Calgary today, representing about 10.1% of the population.
  • By 2012 the total population of Calgary is expected to climb to approximately 1,131,800. The majority of this growth will be in the middle-aged and older adult age cohorts.
  • By 2012, the senior population is expected to increase to 121,900; by 2016 to approximately 146,467, and by 2030, the Calgary senior population will be over 250,000 – about 18% of the population. The anticipated growth in this segment of the population is exponential.
Follow these links for more information: City of Calgary senior citizen programs, City Links and

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