The Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver held its annual general meeting on Sept. 10 via Zoom. Because of the pandemic, we were unable to have our usual format – the AGM followed by a gala dinner and the honouring of three volunteers, nominated by the seniors organizations with whom they work. In spite of these obstacles, we succeeded in holding a meeting that dealt with our ongoing activities and resolutions for our future. More than 50 supporters attended online.
JSA’s co-president, Gyda Chud, focused her remarks on the hard work of the peer support program volunteers, who have been putting in extra time, contacting their clients by phone several times a week. She thanked Grace Hann and Charles Leibovitch for their support of the volunteers during these demanding times. And she also thanked the rest of the JSA staff: Liz Azeroual, executive administrator; Rita Propp, administrative assistant; Jenn Propp, graphic designer and webmaster; and Wendy Lo, bookkeeper. She mentioned two new staff members – Margot Beauchamp, quality assurance liaison, and Rochelle Garfinkel, donor relations and philanthropy – and asked for a minute of silence to remember the members and supporters who had passed away over the last year.
JSA co-president Larry Shapiro explained how the formal part of the meeting would be conducted, with the use of the chat line and voting via on-screen polling. The minutes from JSA’s 2019 AGM were approved as well as the agenda for the 2020 meeting.
JSA’s financial statements were presented by treasurer Alan Marchant, then Shapiro gave a short president’s report. In it, he commented on the harmony of working with Chud, and also with the board members of JSA. He emphasized the importance of the peer support program and its work with lonely and isolated seniors. He expressed the hope that JSA’s finances would enable us to continue training and supporting the volunteers, and he urged everyone to stay in touch and to read Senior Line magazine.
Tony DuMoulin, who is in charge of governance issues, presented a special resolution for a change to the constitution. This involved removing the word “Jewish” in the section saying that JSA works with Jewish seniors, since it interacts with all seniors. He emphasized that the name of the organization, Jewish Seniors Alliance, would remain the same, and, after some discussion, the resolution was approved with 82% support.
Next, DuMoulin proposed a special resolution to change a number of the bylaws – that all donors automatically become members; meetings may be held electronically; officers would be elected by the board not by the members; and an extended term for members. These changes were approved by 88%.
Shapiro thanked DuMoulin for all his work on the bylaws, while Ken Levitt, head of the nominations committee, thanked Larry Meyer and Pam Ottem, who are retiring from the board, for their years of work on behalf of JSA. He moved that the number of directors on the board be changed from 20 to 21 and this was passed by 97%. He read out the nominations for the upcoming board and these were passed by acclamation.
Various committee chairs reported next, and these reports are available on the JSA website. The highlights include the following:
Peer support services chair Rita Roling, who is taking over from Ottem, noted that they are presently handling 100 cases and would like to increase the service.
Lyle Pullan, membership, stated that JSA has 517 members and 102 life members. He believes that many of the new members came as a result of reading Senior Line. He said new members should be listed in the magazine as an incentive.
Serge Haber reported on fundraising, including the fact that JSA has a contract with Vancouver Coastal Health for $70,000 annually to stabilize the organization. And I reported for the program committee, which is planning a fall forum for November and an Empowerment Series event in October, to be held via Zoom.
Senior Line editor Dolores Luber thanked Jenn Propp for her graphic design and collaboration, as well as the members of the editorial committee. The July issue of the magazine was different, as there had been no public events and nothing to review, but it was full and informative.
DuMoulin spoke on behalf of the advocacy committee, which has established collaboration with COSCO and anti-poverty groups. They have approached the provincial government about making the enhanced flu shot free for seniors. They want the government to make improvements in long-term care homes, increase pensions and the number of free Lifeline pendants available for low-income seniors.
After a short video showing the work of the peer support program, Haber thanked an anonymous donor, who has been giving $25,000 annually for the past five years, for helping JSA in its mission of outreach, advocacy and peer support for seniors.
Shapiro adjourned the meeting.
Shanie Levin is an executive board member of Jewish Seniors Alliance and on the editorial board of Senior Line magazine.