In just under a year, a local downsizing and relocation service has already made an impact on the community by helping seniors regain their independence and live their best lives.
Soft Landings founder Lynn Van Egmond says that since her organization began operating last spring, it’s helped between 15 and 20 seniors become more confident in their lives.
Just a neighbour helping her neighbours
18 years before opening Soft Landings, Van Egmond had three children within an 18-month period and was overwhelmed by the workload that entailed.
One day while out on a walk in her community, she met a senior named Anna.
“We quickly became friends and started inviting them to our family get-togethers,” Van Egmond says.
Anna’s husband, Franko, even started taking Van Egmond’s children on walks during the day to help her take a break from her hectic life.
“They had become our family,” Van Egmond adds.
Just before the pandemic, Van Egmond noticed that Anna and Franko could no longer go up and down the stairs in their own home, so she helped move them to the main floor.
Despite that, it eventually became apparent that the couple could no longer live in their home.
“They were just living off of the one room from the garage and they weren’t even able to bathe and shower anymore because all of that was upstairs,” Van Egmond says.
A community unites
Van Egmond gathered friends and community members to help spark a transition.
“We helped them prepare their home for an estate sale and to sell their home so that they could move into the senior community,” she says.
During the moving process, Van Egmond mingled with other seniors and soon realized that this was a common theme among the group, as seniors often don’t have family support for various reasons.
“One evening, it just came to me ‘everybody loves a soft landing on a plane,’ and I felt that we could really make a difference out there,” Van Egmond says.
To ensure seniors and their families are comfortable with Soft Landings coming into their homes, the organization offers an initial free consultation.
“We’re really big on relationships and that personal experience. I let the clients know that they have me from beginning to end,” Van Egmond says.
No one-size-fits-all approach
During the initial consultation, Van Egmond discusses clients’ needs and wants, and helps them choose which services will best suit their needs.
“Soft Landings basically can do everything from A to Z. We can help point you in the right direction for finding a new home, for selling your home, for packing and sorting the items, and more,” she says, adding the team ensures a smooth process.
“We can do one day or one project and then see how it feels. If you feel it’s good value and if it fits, then you can invite us back in.”
Soft Landings also prides itself on listening to its clients’ desire to live a more comfortable life, even if that means staying in their current home.
“Sometimes it’s not always relocating them, it’s just helping them to be able to maintain their independence where they are at the moment,” Van Egmond says.
Honesty and integrity
Often, seniors are vulnerable and don’t know who they can trust.
“I had seen that with Franko and Anna. They had a challenge with a moving company that was even recommended in the senior community,” Van Egmond adds.
Soft Landings has partnered with moving companies and other organizations they have vetted to ensure that their clients are in good hands at all times during the process.
“That brings burden relief to families that have seniors, that want to know that their parents and their loved ones are being taken care of in an honest way with integrity.”
Van Egmond recognizes that seniors do not have access to unlimited funding, and things have only gotten worse with the current economic climate.
Thinking outside the box
To help cut costs, Van Egmond and her team have partnered up with local organizations and charities that help seniors sell their belongings.
That’s one of the reasons the organization doesn’t charge for boxes.
“If I can go to Safeway or Costco and get you boxes, we’re gonna save hundreds of dollars.”
Van Egmond also runs educational seminars for seniors.
“I try to align myself with different senior groups and organizations and do educational seminars or lunch-and-learns to offer tips and tricks for downsizing or what to do with sentimental clutter,” Van Egmond says.
‘It never really ends’
One of her recent clients lived in Banff for 30 to 40 years and had to relocate to government-subsidized housing and had no one to take care of her.
Soft Landings was called in to help make her new living situation feel like home.
“One of my team members and I both cried as we drove back. We said, ‘Who could ever imagine that we would end up doing something that could be so meaningful?’” Van Egmond says.
Van Egmond enjoys staying in contact with all of her clients.
“It’s hard to let them go after you build these relationships. I want to check up on them, and see how they are doing in their new home. It never really ends,” she adds.
Soft Landings’ current clientele is mainly Calgary-based, but they have worked in communities outside of the city, including Bragg Creek and High River.