One Woman Finds Connections, Comfort and Confidence

SherylBoydweb2When entering Sheryl Boyd’s home, you step into an almost magical and tranquil space. There are shelves brimming with decorative crafts and artwork including crocheted, bejewelled flowers in various stages of completion destined for a craft sale. Framed photos of a smiling Sheryl in full red regalia sits amidst books aplenty, a silver tea service set for afternoon tea, and a window overlooking a bountiful crop of herbs and vegetables in her garden.

In keeping with her surroundings, Sheryl is a colourful, creative ‘young-at-heart’ senior who enjoys a very busy social life. But, as she shares her story, it’s clear that a few years ago she was in a different place.

For medical reasons, she retired at 65. She had been a home support worker with Beacon Community Services (a United Way funded partner), providing 24 hour palliative care. She worked every weekend and holiday for 15 years and loved every minute of it.

After retiring, she underwent ankle fusion surgery due to osteoarthritis and was instructed not to put any weight on the leg for six months. “I was trapped in my apartment with no one to take care of me. After an active work life I suddenly felt desperately isolated and alone.”

On top of this, she received tragic news concerning her only remaining family member. Sheryl had experienced personal tragedies before, and this latest news sent her on a downward spiral to a dark place. “I didn’t know what to do. With no friends or family there were times, I didn’t even want to be here.”

Out of desperation, Sheryl consulted the Seniors Blue Book, a guide she was familiar with as a home support worker and called Silver Threads. She was connected to the On The Go Again program which is also funded in part by United Way and facilitated by the Saanich Volunteers Services Society. “My story since then has gone from strength to strength. Through this program, I instantly made 20 friends, found a supportive social network and started on a new road to recovery.”

Sheryl now enjoys listening to guest speakers, engaging in social activities, swapping stories and developing friendships with others through various senior outreach programs, including mah jong gatherings, craft classes, community dinners and movie nights.

And, as a way of ‘giving back’ she is a United Way volunteer speaker about her experience with Silver Threads and its valuable services. She participated in a United Way forum about senior isolation held in partnership with Eldercare in the fall of 2015. “It’s inspiring to know United Way cares enough to listen, and act upon, what seniors have to say. In fact, I think United Way is pretty darn special and I’m pleased to be involved.”