Getting by with a little help from her friends – Betty’s story

When you meet Betty, you see something special about her – there’s an instant sparkle. She lights up a room with her smile and her personality is larger than life. You can’t help but admire her sense of adventure as she tells you the story about how she and her husband, Ed, sold everything, packed up their car in their 20s and drove from Toronto to Victoria for a new beginning.

Forty-seven years later, Betty loves every aspect of Victoria and can’t imagine moving back to the East Coast, even though her family in Prince Edward Island would love to have her. She enjoyed working in payroll at Woolco Department Store for 23 years, and this is where she first learned about United Way and its mandate to help vulnerable people in the community. She became a donor through monthly payroll deductions and has believed in the United Way ever since.

The couple had a full life, making friends with people from all over the world. Betty and Ed retired in Saanich, and their relationship deepened as they explored this new chapter in their lives.

It’s hard to image Betty without her sparkle. The day came five years ago when the love of her life, Ed, passed away. Everywhere she looked there was a memory of him and the time they shared. She became depressed, isolated and disengaged from friends and society. She was lost and unsure how to define herself without her other half, her soul mate.

The song lyrics “I get by with a little help from my friends” from The Beatles, couldn’t be more true for Betty. After the unfortunate news, one friend in particular came to Betty’s apartment every day for three weeks straight to ask her to attend a support group for senior women. It was a place where women could gather over a cup of tea, listen to speakers, enjoy social activities and share their personal stories. This group was exactly what Betty needed.

The Isolated Seniors Program, facilitated by the Saanich Volunteers Services Society for the Silver Threads, is a United Way-funded program to address the needs of an aging population.“I don’t know what I would have done without the volunteers and other ladies in the program during this tough time in my life. They showed me such kindness and love,” says Betty.

Fast forward five years, and Betty shares that it feels like she has known her friends from the program for a lifetime. Now she has a social network she can count on for friendship.You can’t give up on life no matter how hard it gets. I’m fortunate to have friends that picked me up and got me going again.”