A new Vancouver charity aims to fulfill seniors' wishes

Twins help launch Dream On Seniors Wish Foundation

A new charity foundation wants to help seniors scratch at least one item off their bucket lists.

Dream On Seniors Wish Foundation launched on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery earlier this month with a mock protest led by 63-year-old twins Joyce and Jacqueline Robbins. The twins, bullhorns in hand, fronted the protest as seniors took to the streets surrounded by supporters from both the foundation and Nurse Next Door, the Vancouver-based company responsible for founding Dream On. Both seniors and their supporters carried signs with hand-written messages such as, I Have More Twitter Followers Than You and Age is an Art.

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Seniors can apply through the foundation to have a wish granted that could include anything from computer classes to a trip across the globe to be reunited with family. Its the dream of the Robbins twins to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer train between Vancouver and Calgary.

The twins have become unofficial ambassadors for the foundation and a conference call with them Monday afternoon could only be described as delightful, if not slightly confusing as the women frequently finished each others sentences.

The twins compared the work Dream On does to that of Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps grant wishes of children living with life-threatening medical conditions.

But rather than being terminally ill, these are vital seniors who did not have the opportunity to pursue their dream earlier in life, said Joyce Robbins.

Jacqueline Robbins described the foundation as twin-win.

Well always have hopes and dreams, she added. We always say youre not dead at 60, life begins at 60.

Dream On executive director Maninder Dhaliwal said so far the foundation has received about 50 dream requests, which are being considered by a committee that will make selections based on the organizations ability to grant each wish. She noted Nurse Next Door launched the foundation with $25,000 seed money so several dreams can be granted immediately while the organization continues to raise money.

Now were looking for community partners, said Dhaliwal.

The foundation is hoping community partners will come on board with everything from donated or discounted travel to eyewear to classes of all shapes and sizes.

Dhaliwal said the idea for the foundation was born five years ago when a case manager from Vancouver General Hospital called Nurse Next Door for help. A man in palliative care had a final wish to see the son hed been estranged from for 43 years. Nurse Next Door paid for the man to travel to Calgary for one day with a caregiver, where he was reunited with his son before dying just days later. Since Nurse Next Door was founded in Vancouver in 2001, its launched 60 franchises across Canada and 10 in the U.S.

Arif Abdulla, vice-president of marketing for Nurse Next Door, said during the Oct. 19 mock protest one of his colleagues met a woman on the street who told him shes too old to dream.

Thats exactly why we launched this foundation, said Abdulla. Everyone should be able to dream, and not just our clients.

Seniors 65 and older can request a dream on their own, or family members, caregivers, community workers and friends can make a wish on their behalf. To make a submission or for more information visit dreamonseniorswish.org.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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