FALL RIVER: This past October the Breakaway Program that meets Monday mornings at the Open Gate in Fall River reached a milestone – its 10th anniversary.

It comes as a bit of a surprise to both clients and volunteers that the program has been running that long, but all agree it is a great place to spend Monday mornings. It is also a story of survival and success.

The program began in October 2007 under the direction of the VON to offer a break to seniors often isolated by illness or mobility issues, and a break for their caregivers. With two VON staff members and some local volunteers the morning was spent laughing and visiting, interspersed with some gentle exercises, sing-a-longs, creative projects, games, and special events.

In Jan. 2017, VON had to discontinue their involvement in the Fall River Breakaway program (and several others) due to financial cutbacks. They continue to host a Breakaway program in the Tantallon area.

However, the volunteers, some who had been participating from the beginning, were unwilling to see the program end. In hopes of continuing the program totally run by volunteers they put a call out through a local church for more help and were overwhelmed with the response.

Monday morning Breakaway has just completed its first full year independent of the VON and is happy to be going strong. Allister, who has been attending the group since it began in 2007, says, “It’s the fellowship. I still look forward to coming“.

The past year has included some special highlights. The most senior member of the group, Mary, celebrated her 98th birthday in March and is still very difficult to beat in a game of cribbage.

Over the years the number of participants has fluctuated between four to ten members. When asked her thoughts about the program, Mayben, from Lantz, said, “We should have it more often. Three times a week would be great.”

The group meets Monday mornings from September to June, following the school calendar year, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. If you would like information about the Fall River Breakaway Program call Judy Barkhouse at the Open Gate 902-860-2662.

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Pat Healey
Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!