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Agencies team up to create audio newscast tailored to local seniors

'Hopefully this will continue to connect seniors with their community, and ... make them feel engaged,' says Powell, who credits Coun. Jay Fallis for championing the idea
valerie powell seniors newsline
Valerie Powell reads the news for the seniors' news line, a two-minute audio newscast that will be made available to seniors daily on Oct. 1 with the help of Information Orillia. Contributed photo.

A groundbreaking news source for seniors in Orillia is set to be made available on Oct. 1.

Local seniors will be able to call Information Orillia (705-326-7743; extension 2) daily to listen to the Orillia Seniors News Line, a two-minute 'newscast' that includes the day's biggest headlines from the local community.

Valerie Powell, co-chair of the Age-Friendly Orillia advisory committee, has been working behind the scenes for months trying to get the news line up and running, but she says most of the credit for the service belongs to city councillor Jay Fallis.  

“He realized the need to keep people connected who may not be able to otherwise,” Powell said.

For several months, Fallis has been reading and recording a one-minute newscast for seniors which they can access by dialing 249-877-7323.

“Jay has piloted this project on his own, paid for the phone line, and recorded a message every morning,” Powell said.

“He’s been doing a great job with minimal help and minimal technology. “

According to Powell, Fallis isn’t looking for credit, but rather he’s been focused on getting the news line improved, which is what he expects to happen now that it's in the hands of Information Orillia.

Although the news recordings were a break-through way to help keep seniors connected with their community, the one-minute recording restriction by phone providers made it a challenge to keep seniors informed with everything they need to know.

“It’s a challenge when you need to speak a little more slowly for seniors, and we didn’t have time to include certain things that might be relevant to seniors such as health issues that were in the news,” Powell said.

The City of Orillia and the Age-Friendly Orillia Advisory Committee came up with the solution to use the Information Orillia phone system which allows for up to two minutes of recording.  

“A lot of seniors have been really engaged in their community all their lives and they are used to having a daily paper. If they don’t have internet or don’t know how to use a laptop, they need this service,” Powell said.

“Hopefully this will continue to connect seniors with their community, and give them something they can talk to each other about and make them feel engaged."

Michael Gollinger, chair of the volunteer board for Information Orillia, says he couldn’t be more excited to take over the reins from Fallis.

“Our big thing is we want to provide information to the people of Orillia on social services. We felt at this time, especially with COVID going on, that it would be a good opportunity for us to connect with seniors by providing news information every morning,” he said.

“We thought it would be a good fit for us. We look forward to having it up and running on Oct. 1, which is National Seniors Day.”

Information Orillia is looking for some volunteers who are interested in reading the news recordings. Folks who are interested are encouraged to call the Information Orillia line (705-326-7743) and are asked to leave a message. 


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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