The survey went out and the results are in: members of the Sauble Sandpipers like soup. A lot.
“Soup’s On,” open to members and non-members alike, was by far and away the most popular activity hosted by the Sauble Sandpipers a recent survey showed.
The survey was conducted earlier this year by Jerrie Traynor, of Traynor Homestead Enterprises, who shared the results with the Sandpipers membership at a meeting at the Sauble Beach Community Centre on Nov. 23. Traynor was contracted by the Sandpipers to help develop a plan to implement new programs and train volunteer leaders to ensure the organization’s sustainability, according to the Sandpipers’ website.
Traynor, a certified professional consultant on aging, was hired on a contract basis with about $9,600 in funding from the Ontario Seniors Community Grant Program, Judy Nafziger, President of the Sauble Sandpipers, said in an interview.
“We want to make sure our Sandpipers are looked after, and interest others in becoming Sandpipers,” she said.
“We’re looking at moving forward in the next year; how we can improve what we do for our senior members and how we can do better for the community.”
Nafziger said Traynor’s work will provide a guideline or roadmap to move forward.
In addition to the membership survey, Traynor has contracted a Georgian College placement student to create a directory of activities that exist for seniors in South Bruce Peninsula.
Of a possible 246 respondents, 145 surveys were completed via Survey Monkey (an online platform), by telephone or mailed in. Many members who had a partner completed one survey between them, Traynor said.
“We received an overwhelming response. We were well above the average to say the least,” she said.
“Usually you can get about maybe 20 per cent; we got 59 per cent,” Traynor said in an interview.
Overall, 123 respondents said the Sandpipers were meeting their needs.
“So that’s quite a high number for sure,” Traynor said.
“There’s a real community here in itself. Actually, the Sandpipers is a family,” she said. “They care about what goes on.”
Traynor has worked with seniors groups for about 35 years.
“I’m so impressed with this group. The amount of work that they do for such a small community and the number of members they have in such a small community is fantastic,” she said. “It’s very impressive and probably something other groups can learn from as well.”
Traynor has offered to continue with the Sandpipers as a volunteer after her contract is up around the end of December, she said.
Next steps include looking at developing seniors’ forums and information sessions, looking at the organizational structure and developing job descriptions.
The survey asked about preferred Sandpiper activities and programs, what new ones the members would like to see and information about volunteerism.
A slight majority of Sandpipers members fall into the 65-70 age bracket, the survey found. Usually, the highest percentage of members in seniors organizations falls in the 70-75 year-old age bracket, Traynor said.
When asked to choose from a list of programs or activities the members would like to see offered or expanded, day trips topped the list with a whopping 75 respondents choosing this activity. Half-day trips came in second, with 52 respondents.
Hearing this result, a lively discussion was held amongst the members about destinations, the cost of bussing services, and local options available for possible outings.
Trips to Owen Sound to the theatre and shopping were two ideas.
Traynor said putting together a bus trip committee and surveying the members to get ideas about where they’d like to travel would be a good first step. Connecting with the seniors group in Owen Sound to learn from their experiences with bus trips - and possibly to join forces for expanded programming was also suggested by Traynor, who has worked with the Owen Sound seniors group in the past.
One surprising result, Traynor said, was most people attend activities in the spring and fall rather than in summer.
Of the survey respondents, 63 (or about 48 per cent) said they volunteered for the Sandpipers, most for 5-10 years. Many volunteers had no one to back them up should they need to take time off from volunteering. Seventeen survey respondents said they volunteered because there was no one else to do it.
Of the club’s newest volunteers, almost twice as many said they didn’t look forward to their volunteer work as those who did look forward to it.
The members talked about the importance of attracting more volunteers and supporting the ones they have.
Of those who are not currently volunteering with the Sandpipers, half said they had never been asked to do so. About half of those said they were - or might be - interested.
“Unfortunately, not everybody left their name,” Traynor said.
A significant majority of respondents (74) used email to get information about the Sandpipers, with 22 respondents saying they got their Sandpiper news from bulletin boards (12) or other members (10).
Additional comments offered were overwhelmingly positive.
Challenges included hearing and mobility issues, which curtailed the participation of two members, and comments that the group could be “cliquey.”
“Everybody has to make a bigger effort to welcome people,” Traynor said.
Sandpipers executive have approved the creation of a new brochure and membership manual, are looking into revising the website and plan to create new programs if leaders and volunteers are available.
“We’ve got a great lease for this community centre,” Nafziger said. “Filling all of the time we realized is not realistic because we need to make sure the programs that we have...are healthy and running well and led by people who want to be there want to lead the programs.”
An overview of the survey results will appear in the Sandpipers’ newsletter.
Jerrie Traynor, of Traynor Homestead Enterprises, presented the results of a survey of members of the Sauble Beach and Wiarton Sandpipers at a membership meeting at the Sauble Beach Community Centre, Nov. 23.