By Takanori Kuge, JSS CounsellorKuge2
In this article, I would like to introduce one of the JSS programs, which is in great demand.
As is the case with every community, the Japanese Community in GTA is rapidly aging, which means that there are a lot of people living in isolation due to aging, language barriers as well as health related issues. In order to alleviate the loneliness of those who are isolated in the Japanese Community, JSS has been providing the Konnichiwa Program (JSS’s Friendly Visiting Program) since 2004. In the Konnichiwa Program, friendly volunteer visitors make visits to the program users on a regular & ongoing basis. In the weeks without home visitation, a friendly visitor makes a phone call to have a brief chat and to confirm the time and date for the next home visitation, which is also helpful to check if the program user is in need of urgent support.
The main purpose of the Konnichiwa Program is to provide the program users with social support and companionship in the Japanese language. During a visit, a friendly volunteer visitor and a program user would have a chat, play some games and/or go for a walk in compliant with the user’s preference. A friendly visitor would also introduce fun activities that are new to the program user.
Program users and friendly volunteer visitors are carefully matched to best comply with the users’ needs and interests. Although JSS would make it’s best effort to promptly commence the visiting service after receiving a call from a prospective program user or her/his family member or friend, there could be a waiting period according to the user’s location, health conditions as well as the availability of JSS’s volunteers.
Please note that the Konnichiwa Program is a free service, however, the actual cost for a volunteer visitor to make a visit in terms of transportation and parking fees has to be covered by the program user or her/his family member. The users’ contribution for the actual cost could be reduced or exempted at JSS’s discretion when serving program users are in financial difficulty.
Goals of the Konnichiwa Program

  • To reduce the social isolation of the program users by providing them with meaningful
    in-person visitations or by telephone calls from friendly visitors.
  • To increase the program users’ involvement in meaningful activities and to keep the connection to their community
  • To increase the program users’ quality of life by providing them with “moments of happiness in the present” and “something to look forward to in the immediate future.”

In some cases:

  • To provide an opportunity for a caregiver(s) of the program user to obtain a  needed break.

JSS is in great need of friendly volunteer visitors for the Konnichiwa Program! Please contact the Community Outreach Worker, Chie Takano Reeves, at 416-385-9200 if you are interested in this program as a prospective friendly visitor or a prospective program user.