Special to The NEWS
It started off with one SOS coordinator and a few local seniors, and today the Seniors Are Talking program has grown to more than 100 members and it’s expanding to Qualicum Beach in September.
Beverley Cattley was the first member of the SOS (Society of Organized Services) program back in 2006. She said she has enjoyed many things about the program over the years including the Wednesday meetings and the information sessions, but she particularly likes the bus trips and annual Christmas dinners. “That means a lot to many of us that don’t have families anymore,” she said.
Patricia Rodgers also joined the program in 2006, at a time when the friendship, camaraderie and support was very welcomed.
“I joined Seniors Are Talking just after my husband died and I don’t know what I would have done without it,” she said. “It really filled a gap.”
Rodgers said the information sessions have proved invaluable. These have included Service Canada seminars, and talks about nutrition and exercise.
“I have learned so many things that I would never have known about,” she said, “I share it with friends who aren’t members.”
Phyllis Maughan joined the group a couple of months ago and said she’s so pleased that her friend told her about the program. She attends every Wednesday, whether it’s a meeting at SOS with a speaker, or an outing.
The SOS bus has picked her up and taken her to a show at the Chemainus Theatre, the movie theatre in Nanaimo and to High Tea at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station. She said she also enjoys the monthly tea service at St. Stephen’s Church.
“It gets me out of the house,” she said, “I’m here on my own, so it’s something for me to look forward to every Wednesday.”
Cattley agreed that getting out to see familiar faces is important for seniors.
“Just seeing familiar faces, you may not even know them, but you keep seeing them on Wednesdays and that means a lot.”
Seniors Are Talking coordinator Shelley St. Marie will be hosting one Wednesday meeting a month from Qualicum Commons in Qualicum Beach, to make it more accessible for people who live there and north of town.
“It will be nice for seniors who find Parksville is too far from home, to join us in Qualicum Beach once a month,” said St. Marie.
An open house will be held at the Commons — the former elementary school, 744 Primrose St. — Wednesday, Sept. 9 from 1-3 p.m. Refreshments and snacks will be served.
Seniors Are Talking is open to anyone 60+ living in District 69. Members must be mobile, but walkers, wheelchairs and other mobility aids are welcome and transportation is available. Call 250-248-2093 ext. 224 for more information or to register or check www.sosd69.com.
— Lissa Alexander is the SOS