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"Her Story": Sophia's Reflections about the Palenke Seniors Program 2023

Updated: Jan 8

We are honoured to share with you the words of our Senior Activities Coordinator for the Palenke Seniors Program in 2023 - Sophia Leblanc! Sophia has experience in community & administrative support, but more importantly, her infectiously positive spirit brought so much life into our programming this year. Anyone who interacts with her feels her enthusiasm and radiant love.

Sophia was a participant in our Transforming Tea & Toast program that we ran in 2022 in partnership with CRFAIR. We continued our friendship with her beyond that, and she felt like the perfect fit for the role of the senior advisor for this program. Her time working with us this year was not only fun for all of us involved, but also supported her in having the confidence to make some beneficial life changes that will nourish her in this next chapter of her life. We're so grateful to have such a beautiful soul on this path with us.

And now, here are the words that Sophia shared with us evaluating the program as a whole...

"I was the Assistant Program Coordinator / Facilitator for the Palenke Seniors Program.

We have received a lot of feedback over the past year from the participants involved in the Palenke Seniors Program.

I was working with Anna Maria Stone with the support of Ariel & Jess from Iye Creative Collective. We crafted, planned, organized different projects, activities, workshops, visits and gatherings during this past year. Food was always at the centre of our gatherings as food insecurity was a major element in everything we organized.

We worked on building, sharing, informing, empowering, engaging people coming from very diverse backgrounds, gender-diverse, people with visible and non-visible disabilities, people from different cultures, bipocs, indigenous and more.

We engaged with the community, received their feedback and shared knowledge and resources.  From that, meaningful and powerful human connections were created, trust was established in a culturally safe environment.

We built on cooperation through projects aimed at improving the quality of life and community involvement. From the feedback, comments, written and verbal communications received from people involved in the Program, they felt supported with dignity; they are grateful. Their voice was heard, They felt respected. The Program had a positive impact. 

We were able to identify how we could best support the participants by maintaining open communication, respectful of differences where they were encouraged to safely express themselves and communicate their needs and ideas.

It was a big task but The Palenke Seniors Program has been positively impactful and encouraged the participants to play an active role by engaging in self-care and provided them with tools and information to better nurture their needs through the activities and projects planned.

The majority of the participants were financially limited and experienced food insecurity.  In collaboration with different organizations, we were able to provide them with a bi-weekly delivery of local produce.

We were culturally aware of their safety and provided them with an environment that allowed them to built on their resiliency and expand their capacity to make meaningful changes to address their needs and challenges.

I am absolutely proud, on behalf of The Palenke Seniors's Program Team, of what we were able to accomplish. Participants told us they were grateful for The Gift of Hope, for the food received, for the connections created, for the fun activities, for the workshops, the visits, the projects, for the new experiences, for the art, for community, for DIGNITY. 

The Program built cooperation, community involvement. Participants told us they were looking forward to the activities planned as they got out of isolation. It built self-esteem. It helped them through need, personal crisis, loneliness, despair, hunger and human contact with GRACE AND COMPASSION.

On the path towards solidarity,  empathy, non-judgemental mutual aid by concrete actions. Our mission was also to empower people and allow them to reach out when needed to have a healthy and lasting life. 

We aimed at providing new perspectives and the participants also gave us their perspectives through their engagement with us. The Palenke Seniors Program was a success. It's time to re-energize and rejuvenate ourselves with a pause for new ideas and room to grow and reflect.

In gratitude,

Sophia Leblanc,

Assistant Program Coordinator / Facilitator on behalf of

The Palenke Seniors Program Team"

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