Food initiatives co-ordinator Diane McKnight chops potatoes for the meals prepared by SIRCH’s Community Kitchen on Nov. 8. More than 5000 meals were provided free to the community through SIRCH last year. The charity is raising money to continue this service in Haliburton County through its Gifts from the Heart campaign. /JENN WATT Staff

SIRCH launches pilot project to help you find your Family Roots

Submitted by SIRCH

Are you a young-at-heart senior who’s passionate about family research? Do you like working with others to solve mysteries about their ancestry? A new pilot project offered by SIRCH Community Services will train you to do online family research and then help others in the community learn more about their family history.

Launching this month Family Roots is a year-long program that will match 10 senior volunteers (age 60 and over) with three to four vulnerable and isolated seniors in Haliburton County. Together they will find connections through family and in the community. Volunteers will be trained by the project coordinator Donna Gagnon a local genealogist and ancestry expert.

Gena Robertson executive director of SIRCH put the proposal in to New Horizons in 2018. “The great thing about this program is that volunteers will be working with other seniors in the community. Our goal is to connect people and help people who might not know many people or have opportunities to get out to get involved meet people and feel connected. Many seniors are isolated and this one-to-one mentoring plus bringing everyone together weekly will really help connect people. Plus they’ll get a whole online community through their family connections and other people interested in researching family history” said Robertson.

The program will include six weeks of training followed by the trained volunteers who will work with seniors on their family research and attend a weekly drop in. Volunteers and their matches will also participate in periodic public “reveal” sessions to share their discoveries. It is a year-long project with an expected end date of February 2020.

Donna Gagnon is pumped. “The wonderful thing about this pilot project is the opportunity for vulnerable and isolated seniors to feel connected and empowered by learning more about themselves and their ancestors through doing family research. We are excited to offer a new educational training opportunity that will be informative interesting and most importantly fun!” said Gagnon.

The Family Roots program is made possible by a grant from the Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors Program. It will be supported by the Haliburton Highlands Museum and Haliburton Highlands CARP Chapter 54.

Recruitment is currently taking place and space is limited so contact SIRCH today. Call 705-457-1742 or email to register or for more information.