Saskatoon Services for Seniors (SSFS) was created in 1988 from concerned citizens who recognized a lack of affordable services to help elderly or immobile members of the community.
Over the course of three decades, SSFS has grown from offering basic housekeeping and yard work to a wide range of services to meet the expanded needs of the local aging population.
That expansion of assistance now includes income tax preparation, a benefit SSFS members Shirley and Neil Taylor have been using amongst other services.
“I phoned and my gosh it wasn’t long,” Neil Taylor said.
“They phoned and set up an appointment and away she came here. It was really neat. She just had a table here and a chair and we gave her our information. Twenty-five minutes she was out of here.”
Neil estimates he and his wife have been using SSFS for around five years now.
“This year, I’m not very mobile and I thought this was a godsend to have her come here and do this. A very pleasant person and it was just a good experience,” Neil Taylor said.
“We started out slowly the first year,” SSFS executive director Cheryl Loadman said. “Last year was our second year – we did about 500 tax returns and this year we’re thinking we’re going to hit in the 700 range with the majority of those people in their own homes.”
Loadman attributes the growing increase of people taking advantage of the tax preparation to an increased awareness surrounding SSFS as well as an effort to reach communities outside Saskatoon such as Warman, Martensville and Clavet.
Volunteers make up the vast majority of the organization with many involved working to give back to the community in doing so.
“They’re just as sweet as can be … every one of them,” Shirley Taylor said. “We leave the door open and they come in and we say come in and they come in and just like they’re at home.”
The charitable organization relies entirely on community support and private donors. SSFS does not receive federal or provincial government or health region funding and uses all revenues to subsidize clients unable to afford services.
According to Loadman, gratitude and appreciation for the assistance provided to members of SSFS has created lifelong friendship amongst volunteers and clients.
“Helping someone put a drawer back in can make a big difference, it can change their life,” Loadman said.
“There is nothing as frustrating as the fact that you can’t be independent anymore and we are there to basically offer just a little bit of help and that independence is restored. That’s a really exhilarating feeling when you see people be successful in their own homes because we just did one little thing that made a difference.”