Seniors Association of Vaughan Initiative – S.A.V.I.
The inspiration that established the Seniors Association of Vaughan Initiatives, (SAVI), originated from members of the community whose interest it was to ensure better service provisions for the senior residents of the City of Vaughan. Formally instituted in 2003, the founding board approved their mandate of advocacy and collaboration, adopted their theme of “Venturing Together” and established their strategy for positive change.
To date, a total of fourteen clubs with a membership of over 3,700 have joined this umbrella organization. Together they have made significant contributions to the wellbeing of those less fortunate. A total 230 bins of food and $8,000 have been collected and donated to the Vaughan Food bank, $10,000 has been collected and donated to the Vaughan Hospital and another $3,000 has been donated to other worthy causes in the City of Vaughan.
The Wellbeing, Dignity and Respect for seniors are the principles and underpinnings that SAVI is built on. Its advocacy and more important, its actions are guided by this set of beliefs and values.
SAVI’s Mission Statement: is to consolidate and strengthen the network of seniors’ clubs giving a united voice and an improved quality of life to the seniors in the City of Vaughan.
SAVI’s Objectives are: to advocate for seniors’ needs and interest. To offer social, cultural, recreational and educational activities aimed at reducing isolation and promoting social interaction among seniors, and to strengthen friendships and community connections.
SENIORS’ SUMMITS: this concept was initiated as an avenue for seniors to have local issues addressed by its City and Regional Council. To achieve this end, annual delegations and deputations are made to the Vaughan City Council highlighting the needs of individual seniors clubs across the City of Vaughan.
SAVI expanded its Seniors Summits to include Provincial and Federal party representation, at which point provincial and federal matters were presented. Resulting from this initiative, the Provincial government introduced and legislate the Property Tax Rebate for seniors across Ontario. A commitment was made to improve health services in Vaughan, with a particular focus on the building of a hospital and health campus of care, and a commitment on the part of the Federal government to ensure that seniors’ needs be met by making it a high priority for its government to deal with senior needs.
SENIORSFEST: to reduce isolation, loneliness and strengthen friendships. SAVI’s Board, organizes and implements an annual full-day festival, engaging well over 1,300 senior members. Through cultural games, culinary delights, entertainment and friendly competitions, senior members from our multi-cultural community participate jointly and celebrate together, culminating to an evening of dancing under the stars. Coinciding with this event, is the record-breaking food drive for the Vaughan Food Bank, with SAVI having set and still maintaining the record for the most food collected for a single day event as well as on a cumulative basis.
SENIORS’ INFORMATION DAY: this annual full-day event provides an opportunity for seniors to be informed of the various services available to seniors and become familiar with the procedures and process to obtain the required services. SAVI undertakes of inviting and securing the attendance of various service organizations, organize workshops for interactive communication and activity, schedule guest speakers and making provision for food and refreshments; while ensuring that each senior attendee is provided with ample information and pamphlets within a social and cordial atmosphere. This event attracts and engages hundreds of seniors of the City of Vaughan.
HOLIDAY CONCERT: this annual concert is held in the month of December in celebration of the holiday season with special emphasis on the multi-cultural member base. SAVI members are not only invited to attend the concert, but encouraged to be part of the evening’s entertainment and display their talents. With the help of a sub-committee, SAVI oversees the organization and implementation of the entire event, from securing the theatre, entertainment, raffle prizes, exhibits and refreshments during intermission, and ensuring that everyone leaves the venue with a glow in their heart and a lift to their spirit.
VOLUNTEER RECOGNITION: is an annual evening of acknowledgement and recognition of valued volunteers. During the undertaking of SAVI’s activities and events, there is an ongoing recruitment of volunteers from among its members, to assist with identified tasks. SAVI places great value in rewarding the efforts made by the SAVI members, and as a result, the volunteer recognition event has become a much anticipated festivity where volunteers come together in a celebration of friendship and goodwill, and go away with an increased sense of pride and belonging.
INTERCITY BOCCE TOURNAMENT– To encourage and expand social interaction and friendship building. There are a number of seniors clubs whose facilities include bocce courts. As a result, each of these seniors clubs has formed teams that participate in the game of bocce, although the competition was restricted within each club. As a result, SAVI saw an opportunity to bring these teams together in an annual friendly competition, with the name of the winning team engraved on the Founder’s Cup. The participating teams increase annually, as does the audience.
FUNDRAISING FOR WORTHY CAUSES:
To date, numerous annual monetary donations have been made to the Vaughan Healthcare Foundation, and annual food donations to the Vaughan Food Bank.
PARTNERSHIP BUILDING: to ensure that SAVI provides an exceptional level of service to its members. SAVI recognizes the need to increase the services provided by SAVI well beyond social activity and event. Therefore, SAVI has established working relationships with local retirement homes, senior’s residences, CHATS, OCSCO, Elspeth Hayworth, and other like organizations. With the Vaughan Community Health Centre and the City of Vaughan Parks and Recreation Department, through various grants, SAVI has assisted in the Active Living Program for seniors which offered sessions of light exercises and health education to any senior wishing to participate. With Elspeth Hayworth, through The Learning Centre grant, able to procure computers and offer computer learning classes, free of charge, on an ongoing basis.
SAVI successfully obtained a New Horizon Grant valued at $10,000, which will be used to purchase a tent or smaller tents for the use during outdoor activities, not only by SAVI, but any seniors group.
The activities and events undertaken by SAVI are not limited to those noted above. SAVI’s mission is to gather information on other current event from other sources which are shared with the seniors clubs. As a result, SAVI is invited annually by York Regional Police to its Seniors Day celebration, as well as its Calendar Launch, and is a vehicle of communication for any information session, pertaining to seniors that are held by York Regional Police as well as the City of Vaughan Fire Department.