Personal Best: From dream to reality

A dream of one very determined man has at last become a reality, witnessed and assisted by all three levels of government and symbolized by a blast in the bedrock behind Catherine Gardens Oct. 16. This seniors housing project for people 55-plus is the brainchild and obsession of Jack Gareb, manager of the Schubert Centre, who has somehow managed to weave together all sections of government and the community to produce this much-needed housing project.

When Jack first floated this idea a few years ago to some people who were active in the seniors community most of us thought the idea a pipe dream at best. This goes to prove that you should never doubt a man with a dream, including a man who can talk city council into donating a rock shelf to the project along with permission to build. We should note that without Vernon council’s support this project would have died. Provincial support and advocacy was also supplied by MLA Eric Foster and the minister of housing, and MP Colin Mayes. Another important partner is Terra Lumina Life Lease Housing, which was also present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. To see all levels working together on any project is a miracle in itself.

Congratulations must also go to the Schubert board of directors, who views this retirement residence as much needed downtown housing for seniors. The building has 56 suites, with three units dedicated to low-income seniors, and the balance following a life lease model with the centre forming a non-profit society that will continue the administration and maintenance for Catherine Gardens.

Costs of units range from a one-bedroom for $179,900 up to a two-bedroom at $359,900 and to date 32 units have sold, with several reserves in place. Construction should be completed in late 2015. Units are not cheap but given the average cost of housing in Vernon, not exceptional and the location is ideal as one ages. Most buyers finance a unit by selling their existing home, and downsizing helps pay for retirement plus reduce transportation, home operating and maintenance costs. Personally I think this would be an ideal living situation for aging seniors who could walk to almost all shopping, medical and social locations while having a seniors centre, operated by seniors, at their fingertips.

Kudos to our Vernon Farmers Market for their donation of 19,000 pounds of fresh produce to our Salvation Army Food Bank. Obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables on a limited income is difficult so this donation is very welcome.

Most seniors begin to worry at this time of year about how to stay healthy with flu and colds already being reported around this area.

Harvard Medical School, in their publication The Truth About your Immune System, reports that “following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Here are some lifestyle strategies to follow: Do not smoke; follow a healthy eating plan high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat; exercise regularly; maintain a healthy weight; control blood pressure; if you consume alcohol do so in moderation; get adequate sleep; take steps to avoid infection. And get the regular medical screening tests for people in your age category.”

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan.