‘A lot of seniors living in their cars’: Fundraising concert helps seniors struggling with affordability in Parksville-Qualicum

'A lot of seniors living in their cars': Fundraising concert helps seniors struggling with affordability in Parksville-Qualicum

Renowned Canadian actor and musician Tom Jackson toured the non-profit Society of Organized Services (SOS) in Parksville, thanking, and even hugging, workers ahead of his Friday night concert. He praised their work helping Parksville-Qualicum’s most vulnerable seniors.

“Angels without wings. This (SOS) is a verb, called love,” said Jackson, an Order of Canada recipient and award winning entertainer.

The charity, run out of Parksville’s offices, is currently helping 2,000 seniors reach medical appointments, complete income taxes, deliver meals to their homes, and more than ever to just get by since food and rent prices have overwhelmed people on fixed incomes.

“It’s been very difficult. Seniors are really struggling with it. We’ve had a lot of seniors living in their cars. We’ve had to help seniors that are in really tough spots,” said Lissa Alexander, communications manager at SOS.

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The volunteer-driven SOS has become a lifeline for seniors in Oceanside, where the majority of residents are over 60 years old. Yet, instead of living their golden years, according to the BC Seniors’ Advocate one in four seniors in B.C. are living on less than $23,000 per year. That is below the poverty line.

On Wednesday, BC Seniors’ Advocate Dan Levitt recommended the province increase the BC Senior Supplement to catch up with inflation and provide immediate financial relief for low-income seniors so that their rents are no more than 30 per cent of their monthly income.

“More and more seniors are using food banks and accessing community meal services, and are at risk of homelessness,” Dan Levitt told a Victoria news conference on Wednesday.

READ MORE: B.C. seniors feel ‘invisible and forgotten,’ new seniors advocate says

Alexander said workers at SOS see that everyday.

“We help people who are struggling to pay rent or their propane, or don’t have heat or medication, that sort of thing,” said Alexander.

So Jackson told CHEK News that he jumped at the chance to support the cause and perform at a fundraising Gala on Friday benefitting SOS, even signing a guitar to be auctioned off.

“This place makes miracles. It does magic,” said Jackson.

All of the tickets to Friday night’s fundraising concert sold out quickly, and will help the non-profit continue to meet the growing need of its seniors.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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