Abbotsford Serving Seniors in Community


By: Julie Ireton

 After too many months of isolation from friends and family, shutdowns, lockdowns and trying to figure out “zoom”, Ottawa seniors are more than ready to be back socializing at their senior’s centre across from Lansdowne Park.

“They’re ecstatic, some are almost moved to tears to be back and see people again,”

said Kirsten O’Brien, in the community support services department of Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre.

“There’s happiness just to be able to see friends, even at a distance and with masks, there’s a reconnecting and a real sense of community again.”

Visitors to Abbotsford must show that they’ve been double vaccinated and fitness classes have fewer people. Weather permitting, they’ve been able to move some activities outside this fall.

But the doors are open and people are returning.

“They are really enjoying contact and interaction. The Sing ‘N Jam club is singing and playing their hearts out on our patio and the two ping pong tables are getting a good workout on Friday mornings,” said Pat Goyeche, coordinator of community programs.  “We’ve even been able to rent larger spaces off site though a special grant which has allowed us to serve more folks safely.  These ‘pop-up’ fitness classes have been very popular!”

For clients who live alone or don’t have family nearby, Abbotsford and its activities, support groups, fitness classes and clubs can be a lifeline for some seniors, according to O’Brien.

“They are so willing to comply with all the safety measures, because the draw to see each other is so special and important,” she said.

Programs such as transportation to medical appointments didn’t stop throughout the pandemic and when the snow starts to fly, another service will also be available.

Snow Go

For seniors who aren’t looking forward to digging out the snow shovels, some city of Ottawa programs may be able to help.

‘Snow Go’ refers seniors and adults with disabilities to contractors who have passed a screening test, are properly registered and insured.

The Snow Go Assist program is for people over 60 years old or those with disabilities who are defined as low income. The program will reimburse up to $250 on the cost of their snow removal for the season.

Low income is defined by the city as a single person who lives on $31,500 a year or $39,200 for a household of two or more.

“If the person meets eligibility and provides documentation they can qualify,” said O’Brien.

Abbotsford is also continuing to support clients at home with phone and virtual programs, including many fitness classes that continue to be available online through Zoom.

But still, many members yearn for the day when there are even more activities available inside the centre.

“We get asked: when can we loiter again? When can we play bridge again?” said Goyeche.  “Our goal is to expand as it is safe to do so and add more in-person programming.”

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre for Adults 55+.  It houses the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon- Fri 9-4 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Food Hamper Project


Food Hamper Project


Kirsten O’Brien, Program Facilitator

At Abbotsford House, we connected by telephone and email with seniors remaining at home throughout the pandemic. During some wellness checks done by staff and volunteers, food security was mentioned as an ongoing issue for some seniors that we serve. We considered how we could support these seniors in the community during the pandemic.   For many it was the struggle to get to a store, not having a credit card for online shopping, the fear of going into a store, and for others it was having to shift finances to cover increased costs of all things associated with the pandemic.

Director of Community Programs, Karen Anne Blakely, applied for a grant through the Ontario Community Support Association to assist seniors who were struggling with food security. We received funds to be able to provide up to 50 food hampers. Staff reached out to the many seniors with whom we had spoken to in the early days of the pandemic who had identified the need. We made of list of clients, recruited volunteers, developed a delivery route and began to shop! Staff and volunteers took the time to personalize the food boxes, ensuring that what was in each box would meet the needs and preferences of each of the seniors. Deliveries of the food boxes were done by staff.

As our resources dwindled, we were fearful we would not be able to impact as many seniors as we had hoped. Then, Abbotsford House was fortunate to receive a $500.00 donation from the Glebe Metro! Owner Rebecca McKeen and her team never hesitated when they were approached to assist with this project. The team at Glebe Metro provided us with the resources to not only meet our target, but exceed our target. So far Abbotsford House has delivered 48 food boxes and the target is now increased to a total of 60 food boxes.

In addition to the donation, Glebe Metro provided Abbotsford House with a 5% discount on the grocery bills. A huge shout out to Rebecca McKeen and her team at Glebe Metro for helping with this Food Hamper project.

Clients stated their appreciation for the food hampers in their feedback to staff at Abbotsford House. We received comments such as: “Only a few people are full of compassion like you”; “You are truly an angel”; “… (the food box) was so generous, now I don’t have to arrange for someone to go get my groceries for at least a week”; and “Thank you for the food hampers. Bless you all for being part of this”.

Rebecca McKeen presents check for $500.00 for Food Box Project. Pictured are: (front row) Rebecca McKeen and Kirsten O’Brien, (back row) Nick Bermudez, Jane Stallabrass, Student Rahima Abdillahi. Missing from photo: volunteer Clara Luck. Photo credit: Pat Goyeche.

Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+.  We are the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon- Fri 9-4 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

The Sun is Shining on Abbotsford House

Daisy Wai

Parliamentary Assistant Daisy Wai joined in a class of Gotta Dance Broadway to help celebrate Seniors Month

By: Karen Anne Blakely

 As we work towards building community immunity, Abbotsford House is looking forward to a summer of online and telephone programs for older adults aged 55 plus with a shift toward in-person programs when it is safe to do so. For the summer programs, see what is on offer on our website under community programs. For new members, we are now offering a prorated membership fee of $25 for the rest of the year.  All of our summer classes will be virtual or on the telephone. We hope you enjoy visits to the gardens surrounding Abbotsford House on sunny days and have a rest on our commemorative metal bench as it is in the shade after 1 pm. We continue to stock the bookcase with books and puzzles so come have a look to find the best summer read. Call Elleni Adane, our new receptionist, at your convenience to pay for the books and puzzles. We have booklets on Cannabis and Older Adults published by Active Aging Canada for you take at no cost.

Our Community Support Services continue throughout the summer. If seniors or adults with disabilities require assistance getting to medical appointments or vaccine clinics, call and register with our transportation coordinator, Jane Stallabrass. Currently our paid drivers, Tim and Terry Dale are driving seniors to where they need to be in our air-conditioned Pro Master van.

Whatever you might require assistance with to remain at home safely, we will work with you to find solutions. Kirsten O’Brien helps seniors find home help, gardening help, and referrals for professionals and trades people. If you have need groceries, let us know, as we have a new grant to help low-income seniors access food hampers.

Nick Bermudez is assisting seniors to acquire tablets so they may get connected to programs, family and friends, perhaps a learn game, check email or get a Facebook account. On Facebook, you can like our Abbotsford and Glebe Centre pages to get regular updates about what is happening and enjoy photography of Abbotsford’s blossoming plants.

Janet Kuntz is offering support to caregivers on Zoom and sends out weekly emails with resources and other information to help those caring for loved ones at home or have a loved one living in long term care.

Cassandra Ford, Shirley Lee and Jen Dare, our dedicated and skilled Program Facilitators continue to provide Zoom and telephone programs for those living with dementia and are being cared for at home. They facilitate activities, fitness and engage in interesting discussion topics to keep seniors and caregivers involved and entertained. Porch and driveway visits at a safe distance have resumed and they are enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company after a long break.

Kirsten O’Brien and Jane Stallabrass with the help of a few wonderful long-time volunteers continue the Luncheon Club on the Seniors Centre Without Walls, telephone conferencing platform. Participants only need their telephones to connect with their friends, exchange updates on how everyone is doing and groan together at Kirsten’s jokes.

Later in the summer when second doses of the vaccine are in community members and after the allotted waiting period has occurred, we will be keen to present our re-opening plans. We hope to offer some fitness classes in larger venues and smaller class sizes so seniors can exercise with generous space between each person. We will need to get accustomed to being indoors with others not in our household.  Look for a mix of in person and Zoom programming in September. We look forward to communicating our plans to reopen Abbotsford House soon.

Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+.  We are the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  Find out more about our services by telephoning us: Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm at 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and Abbotsford Community Programs on our website


Abbotsford Loan Tablets to Seniors in Community


By: Karen Anne Blakely, Director of Community Programs

Abbotsford House has commenced a special Seniors Tablet Project. The Champlain Community Support Network secured a collective purchase of internet-enabled tablets to be used by seniors and adults with disabilities in their homes in the community. Abbotsford House was given 10 tablets. The funding was secured through the provincial government, so there would be no cost to the client for use of one of these tablets.

The Royal Bank of Canada Foundation has generously donated an additional 12 tablets and protective cases for the tablet project.

Abbotsford House is also pleased to receive funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) for the Abbotsford Seniors Stay Strong project, which includes a tablet loaning program to ensure seniors who experience barriers get the technology and help to use the technology to reduce isolation. The funds will pay for some tablets and accessories to loan to seniors, some online activities, training and wages.

All the tablets are android-based and are intended to be used by clients to access virtual care, participate in social and health programs, as well as help the older adults to engage with family and community through online platforms. The intent of this Seniors Tablet Project is to reduce barriers and support seniors and adults with disabilities living in community. Some seniors will require a lot of support to use the tablets and others have tech savvy family members who are able to assist them and they just require the tablet to get started.

Nick Bermudez is the staff person overseeing the project. He recently moved into a Program Facilitation position at Abbotsford House and he is looking forward to connecting with the members and clients of Abbotsford about this project. He will be setting up the tablets, promoting the program, dropping the tablets off at seniors’ homes, checking in by telephone and online. Nick will be supporting participants to use the tablets and connect members and clients to virtual programs, services and apps that interest them.

Over the next year, Nick will work with seniors to learn their interests, determine their abilities to use the tablets and offer some training. By the end of this project more seniors will have options to stay connected with others, get what they need online, get answers to questions they have about health and wellness or even book appointments with their doctor online. Perhaps some people will become active on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok! Others might play word games with their friends or listen to podcasts! We hope some will want to sign up for Zoom classes at Abbotsford House to learn a new language, do a fitness class or art class. These new technical skills will be useful now during the pandemic when we are restricting our movements and beyond during times when it is not possible to go outdoors due to inclement weather or moments of poor health.

Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+.  We are the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon- Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Abbotsford House’s 150th Anniversary Celebration Next Year!

By: Karen Anne Blakely

In 2022 celebrations will be held to mark 150 years since the construction of Abbotsford House on Bank Street. With planning underway to recognize this major milestone it is worth noting to Abbotsford House members, clients and our Glebe neighbours of the work that has taken place and will be done in the coming months on our heritage-designated home.

In March, all the old shingles on the roof were removed and to our delight exposed an interesting design feature. Whereas one might usually see sheets of plywood under the shingles the roof instead was layered with barn boards. These long pieces of wood were two inches thick and for the most part in very good shape. We were advised to keep these in place and add plywood over these boards so that roofing nails would hold.  New soffits are coming in soon.  Fortunately funding for this very significant project came partially from a government grant.

Over the past five years, twenty-five new windows have been installed while the heritage wood windows facing Bank Street have been refurbished with the aid of grants.

Next on the list are the front porch and the intricate wood gabling adorning the roofline of the house. Due of the heritage designation, we have had to follow a series of steps in order to comply with City of Ottawa rules and regulations.

Working with Tim Davis Design, an architectural plan was developed for the porch. Once approved by the City we can the move forward with the renovation in June. Thankfully we had initiated conversations with an experienced heritage property contractor in 2020 so they were able to commit to this work.

This contractor has made a commitment to try and reuse wood from the original porch but that task will only be realized once the old porch is dismantled and each piece examined. Given the pandemic and significant increase in cost of materials and renovations this project will be more expensive than originally planned.

The final project for this year is refurbishment of the roofline gables. The next time you walk by Abbotsford House cast your gaze of to the roof. Attached to it are intricate circular wood gables (also called gingerbread). Unique in style, it is interesting to note that these gables are different in look at the front and back of our home.

Quotes for the gable work are expected in the coming weeks. It is expected that work will commence in the fall. Come December you will see the same historic house on Bank Street, only better.

Specific tax deductible donations for the porch and gable work have come from many committed Abbotsford members and friends in the neighbourhood, including a nice gift from Amica Mature Lifestyles.  Should you wish to make a gift please call Bruce Hill at 613-238-2727 ext. 316 or e-mail him at

Abbotsford House provides community programs and services. The building is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic however community support services and recreation programs for seniors aged 55+ and adults with disabilities living in the community are offered virtually on Zoom, on the Seniors Centre Without Walls telephone conferencing platform and by telephone.

Call us at 613-230-5730 for more information or visit our website at


‘Day Away’ is a ‘Day In’

By Julie Ireton

More than a year into the pandemic, the team at Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre has become creative with technology, music and distanced visiting when it comes to keeping its Day Away program clients engaged and active.

The Day Away program is for clients between 60 and 90 years old who are currently in the early to middle stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Pre-COVID-19, the program ran out of Abbotsford House, the seniors’ centre across from Lansdowne Park.

The clients and staff would gather regularly to play games, do exercises, sing songs, chat and have lunch. But over the past year, the sessions have become virtual, on Zoom or through telephone conferencing.

“This week we did scavenger hunt,” said Jen Dare, Program Facilitator Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre who has been working with seniors for 30 years. “They were running around and finding things, having fun with what’s around them. Some clients interact very well, while others are not sure where the voices are coming from.”

The online programming has also included music trivia and reading short stories.

A few times, Dare and her team have created individualized activity kits with puzzles and games to drop off at the clients’ homes.

For those who aren’t able to join via Zoom, a teleconference, “party-line” has been set up to gather 7-8 clients by phone.

While switching to the virtual platform has meant a steep technology learning curve for both the organizers and the caregivers, many quickly figured out how to get-together online, said Dare.

Quite often the care-givers are spouses who also depend on the Day Away program to bring some respite, allowing them to do something on their own.

“Keeping in touch with caregivers is also important,” she said. “We find out if they need other outreach services or if they need more help in the home. It’s a difficult time for all of us, but if you’re caring for someone 24/7 it’s more challenging.”

Throughout the pandemic isolation, some have struggled with keeping their loved-ones active, said Dare.

“It certainly is a struggle at times, finding things to do. Boredom sets in and then you can see other behaviours,” she said.  “But even on our Zoom calls, it’s wonderful to see them engaging with each other. They just miss that togetherness,” said Dare.

As the weather warms up, the Day Away organizers will plan porch visits with their Day Away clients so they can catch up in person.

This spring, expanding vaccination programs across the city are bringing hope that regular programming will eventually resume.

“It’s the game changer. Once people have vaccines we can look at gathering again,” said Dare. “We can’t figure it out just yet, but there is hope we’ll get some sort of normal back again.”

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre for Adults 55+.  It houses the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  Find out more about our services by telephoning 613-230-5730 during regular business hours or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Abbotsford Seniors Centre: Ever Present, Ever Changing…

By: Pat Goyeche                                                    March 2021

Here we are one year after COVID-19 changed our day to day way of life.

Abbotsford Seniors Centre is no exception. We were planning our usual spring registration when, like everyone else, we came to understand the need to shut down with little or no warning.  We all had to deal with the growing reality of the severity of the virus and its effects on society and, in our case, on seniors in community.

The verb ‘pivot’ has become the mantra of almost all businesses and organizations over the past year. And pivot we did!  The priority for Abbotsford became both the personal and physical wellbeing of our clients, members and volunteers. Are you living aloneCan someone bring your groceriesDo you have a support network?

To pursue these questions we mobilized staff and our wonderful volunteers who made phone contact with our members and clients.  That initial ‘check in’ grew into a phone tree of volunteers and staff to reach our clientele that has been maintained throughout this past year.   Volunteers, clients and members have made new friends, shared resources and tapped into the tremendous network of resources that Abbotsford staff have at their disposal.  Friendly chats have alerted us to the needs of seniors regarding food security, health, wellness and need for connectivity.

As we began to realize that we would have to ‘live with’ COVID-19 for quite some time, it became apparent that we had to reach our members where they were…at home!

The telephone was and is still a very effective means of communication with our clientele but we needed to connect in a new way, a way in which we could continue offering engaging programming that takes account of the realities of COVID-19.

Our clients, members and instructors were patient and imaginative in experimenting with virtual programming in those early months when for most of us the word ‘zoom’ was still a sound we associated with a speeding car!

What started with and continues to be a wish to ‘see’ family and friends we were not allowed to visit due either to distance or restrictions quickly morphed into a way of continuing to engage in treasured pastimes and keep up with fitness regimes.

Isabel Gonzalez is one of Abbotsford’s many instructors who initiated a way to keep our members engaged and fit.  It started with a Zumba Gold workout video by Isabel that we could share on our website.  While it was a new format it was also so familiar for our patrons to have Isabel take them through familiar routines.  This became the bedrock of keeping engaged and connected when nothing was normal.

Isabel who is originally from Chile has also been facilitating Conversational Spanish classes for Abbotsford for many years.  She and her students were keen to continue practicing their language skills. That interest and willingness paved the way for our first set of virtual programming using Zoom.

Zoom, like Google, has become its own very particular verb.  We ‘Zoom’ with our family and friends and now we Zoom to practice Spanish, write memoirs, take art courses, dance, perfect our yoga positions and engage in a myriad of fitness classes.

Virtual programming is far from perfect and cannot entirely replace the connection, socialization and spontaneity of in person interaction, but it certainly does help keep us connected and motivated.

We still have a ways to go, as seniors living independently in the community await their turn to receive the vaccination against COVID-19.  The challenges of the past year for individual seniors has been immense and at times overwhelming, but many have ‘pivoted’, flexed and changed their ways enough to keep both safe and engaged.

Much gratitude goes to the instructors, facilitators, members, clients and volunteers who have kept the faith and continue to find, partake in and create meaningful activities.  Abbotsford will continue to do its part to keep up with you!

Our March/April programming schedule boasts of over 30 different classes to choose from.  Registration for members will began on February 18th and will be ongoing, with most classes starting the week of March 8th.  Anyone 55+ is encouraged to become a member and join in.  You can join in and do four weeks of class if class size allow.  Call Abbotsford to connect. 613-230-5730

Keeping Connected and Busy Through Abbotsford House

 Jan/Feb 2021

 By: Julie Ireton

Joan Norvid, 100, always looks forward to the mini-bus picking her up on Tuesdays and seeing her friends at Abbotsford House’s luncheon club.

Since the pandemic arrived last spring, the club now meets via teleconference, and while it’s not quite the same, Joan still enjoys catching up with the luncheon friends she initially met at the senior’s centre across from Lansdowne Park.

“They’re a nice bunch of people. I wouldn’t want to give it up,” said Joan, who still lives in her own home, but has family nearby.

Joan’s daughter, Nicole Norvid, visits and helps her mother daily. The luncheon club, even if it’s over the phone, gives Nicole, the caregiver, a bit of respite.

“They maintain a connection, it’s a tight knit group,” said Nicole. “It’s nice to know every Tuesday we have that call.”

Every week, at the end of the teleconference, Joan sings her friends a well-known tune before signing off.

I always sing Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’,” said Joan.

For Barb Neilson the calls help beat the boredom that’s come with being in a lockdown for so much of the winter.

“When I get with people I talk and talk and talk,” said Neilson. “I love the conference call and enjoy the people. There are about ten or twelve of us, including two men, but they don’t have too much to say.”

This telephone connection is just one of the programs that Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre has adapted throughout the pandemic.

This winter, 27 programs were offered to the general membership and 13 sold out. Realizing that both inclement weather and lockdown conditions have made it difficult for seniors to exercise, the centre has offered several fitness classes via zoom.  Art, Language and dance classes seem to have struck a particular chord with the members this winter.

Meditation, conversational French and Spanish, memoir writing, yoga, book club and several art classes are also offered online with new eight-week sessions opening up for March and April.

Registration will be mid-February, with classes open to all members of Abbotsford House.  It is the perfect time to join as the membership runs on a calendar year.

Marion Haunton usually travels the world every winter, but since that’s not an option this year, she’s trying out programs at Abbotsford for the first time, in fact, she has a packed schedule.

“I’m taking four art classes per week: watercolour, sketching, collage & mixed media, and one on colour,” said Haunton. “It’s very well organized and very flexible when it comes to the materials you use. I like to have something to do four days a week.”

Haunton, who is also recovering from hip surgery earlier this winter says the classes have kept her busy at a time when her choice of activities has been very limited.

While she looks forward to getting back to her travels when the pandemic is over, Haunton says she’s so pleased with the selection of classes she’s found at the seniors’ centre.

“It’s a very nice recreational thing to do and Abbotsford does a wonderful job,” she said.


Seniors and Students Connect

Seniors and Students Connecting

December 2020 

Rosemary MacKinnon has made a new friend during the pandemic and spends hours each month chatting with her on the phone. Decades separate these new pals by age, they’ve never met face to face, but they have no problem finding things to talk about.

This fall, some Carleton University sports teams have been matched up with isolated seniors like MacKinnon, and they socialize with them by phone.

Some young women on the university’s rugby team are making calls to residents of the Glebe Centre and members of Abbotsford House seniors centre.

“With COVID I don’t get out to socialize much so it’s really nice to talk to someone about what they’re doing,” said MacKinnon. “Getting to know someone young brings more to our lives.”

University teams are still training and practicing, but varsity competitions are on-hold right now, giving athletes much more spare time than usual.

Some teams decided to spend that extra time giving back to the community.

“It’s really cool to make connections outside the school and it gives an opportunity for the seniors to keep in touch, keep busy, especially with COVID, because they aren’t able to do other activities,” said Zoe Coulter, a third year Carleton student and varsity rugby player.

Coulter, who is studying anthropology and sign language, is also hoping to put her signing skills to practice with other seniors in the community.

“It’s great practice for me,” said Coulter, “As a student, it’s nice to have a break and not think about any school work and just listen to them. It makes everyone feel good on both sides.”

Sometimes the phone calls last an hour or two, according to Coulter. They talk about anything and everything during these conversations, including politics.

Coulter says she looks forward to the end of COVID when they can meet each other in person, and maybe set up a “paint evening or story night.”

Kirsten O’Brien, program facilitator at Abbotsford House, makes the match between students and seniors and shares information about the clients so it’s not a “cold call”.

“They form friendships and look forward to the calls. They can all use a phone, so they don’t have to be techy with a computer for these chats,” said O’Brien. “The seniors are interested in that real connection, a voice at the end of the line.”