Home > Community > In Our Community > KV - Why I'm Here > Maggie Gibb, Coordinator, Oakville Seniors Centre

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Maggie Gibb considers the work that she does as the coordinator of the Oakville Seniors Centre on Kerr Street to be a calling - this is a place where she feels a match between her skills and interests and the needs of the people she works with that makes her happy.

And while Maggie responded to a calling to work with seniors, it is the people of the Kerr Village area who keep her in the field.

Those who live in the Kerr Village neighbourhood can't help but observe the changes that are underway, transforming the area into a more and more diverse collection of businesses and services. While some enterprises come and go, others thrive and consistently rate accolades from their loyal customers.

What brings these varied shops and people to Kerr Village? WRRA Board Member Sandy Moshenko decided to find out through a series of interviews with entrepreneurs and service providers in the neighbourhood.

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Maggie arrived at her calling after returning to school as an adult in the field of gerontology, an area that was new in the 1980s. The discipline of working with seniors has changed markedly since then. Maggie notes that the days when senior women spent their retirement years knitting, sewing and doing crafts are long gone. Today, many senior women have retired from careers outside the home, are healthier and more fit than in earlier generations and are interested in maintaining an active lifestyle for as long as possible. What brings them to the seniors centre differs widely from what interested their mothers.

The advent of the computer has made a notable change in the types of programs that are available through the seniors centre. Ten years ago most seniors attending the centre had few computer skills and were looking for assistance in learning the basics such as email and word processing. The current generation of seniors has mastered the fundamentals of computer use and now is seeking more advanced skills in order to assist them in making the most of specific programs, as well as venues such as social media.

Maggie04 small fixed frameAt the same time the community has become considerably more diverse, leading to the need for programming that is responsive to multiple languages and cultures, and differing levels of independence. Maggie notes that seniors from other countries often live with and are dependent on their adult children for transportation and communication. This is where the mainstream and the newcomer cultures meet, requiring both to adapt. As one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Halton Region, Kerr Village has provided Maggie with the challenge of designing programming to serve a a wide variety of needs and interests.

Even the definition of senior has broadened. Did you know that to become a member of the seniors' centre and thus be eligible to participate in the wide range of programs offered there, you only need to be 50 years old?

With the overall goal of helping those in their senior years remain healthy, fit and socially engaged, the demands on Maggie and others providing seniors' services are considerable. And since only 20% of the users of the centre are male, it is a challenge to address everyone's needs and interests.

Nonetheless, Maggie sees only positive things on the horizon as more and more seniors find their way to seniors centres and influence the range of programs being offered. With Maggie at the helm, the Oakville Seniors Centre will continue to be a welcoming, vibrant place, and Kerr Village is a better neighbourhood for that.