As the end of the month draws near, Kitty Larner is saying her goodbyes at the seniors’ centre.
Kitty, a fixture at the Parksville Seniors’ Drop-In Centre for the past two decades, is leaving town to be with her family in Borden, Saskatchewan.
“It’s about time I spent time with the family. Leave this family and go back to my other family.”
Kitty and her husband moved to Parksville to get away from the snow and weather in Saskatchewan.
It was her husband, who has since passed away, that first started coming to the drop-in centre, while she originally started volunteering in the kitchen.
“I was here every day when he was alive, and even more so after that.”
It was after his death that Kitty and Jean Laverty, another volunteer, became best friends. Laverty had promised Kitty’s family that she would take care of her. Kitty’s family wanted her to move then, but Laverty told them Kitty wasn’t ready yet.
For Kitty, the seniors’ drop-in centre has been home over the years, adding that she’s probably at the centre more than she’s at home.
“It’s given me happiness, though. Believe me.”
Now she is ready to move, and she’s already been to check out the local seniors’ centre, but she joked they might not want foreigners coming in.
Kitty said it’s going to be hard leaving, but she added she’ll come back and visit after a while.
“Then I’ll complain how the place is run and I can fire everybody,” she joked.
In the past 23 years, Kitty has been a volunteer, a secretary and the president for the centre.
While not a founding member of the drop-in centre, Kitty was key in helping to get additions made to the originally small house that was donated to the centre.
Kitty loved being a part of the renovations so much, she says would do it all again.
“If they started to build out, I’d come back and help them.”
Kitty worked with Elli Steinki, one of the founding drop-in centre members, on the renovations.
“I just had ideas and somebody said, ‘Yeah, let’s go with it.’ But as usual, there’s nobody going to do it.”
Kitty was a driving force at the centre.
She even nagged about a choir until she finally got one.
Laverty, Kitty’s self-proclaimed best friend — but they’re more like sisters — said the centre doesn’t know what it’s going to do without Kitty.
“Well, this place wouldn’t have run probably without Kitty or her guidance and friendliness.”
Kitty knows all about the centre and its history. She’s got piles and piles of notes that she’s giving to the current president, Liz Hintz.
“I didn’t want to part with them, but they belong here,” Kitty said of her stacks of notes.
“The presidents that came after her would always ask for her knowledge about the drop-in centre for information,” Laverty said.
Hintz looked to Kitty for guidance since she became the centre’s president in the last year.
“Thank goodness Kitty was around,” Hintz said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when you’re gone.”
This past Sunday, the drop-in centre held a going away luncheon for Kitty. Members and non-members could attend.
Kitty just wanted people to wish her well.
“But doing all this and I’m having a big party, if I don’t like it [in Saskatchewan], can I come back?” she asked, laughing.