Like many organizations across Canada, the seniors centre closed its doors in March 2020 as COVID-19 made its way into the country.
On March 12, 2020, program co-ordinator Maryan Weenink was told not to come into work at the Centre, which leases space at Nexsource Centre to operate programs and events.
All the seniors’ plans for the rest of the month, and the 18 months that followed, were put on hold.
As provincially-imposed gathering and operations restrictions have eased over this summer, the board got together to start planning a re-launch. “We’re open for business as of Sept. 1,” said President Peter Hamers.
Board members and Weenink have been reaching out to people who’ve previously provided services to members at the Centre. Most of the previous programming will resume.
The first event was a barbecue – a return to their traditional Wednesday lunches – with 94 people showing up. Lunches will run every other week during September and possibly return to a weekly event in October. The first breakfast since closure will be Sept. 21.
Thursday night bingos will return in October, with Oct. 7 being the tentative start date. While most events are for members only, bingo is open to anyone 18 years or older. “We’ve got brand new equipment to use for the bingos,” said Director Laverne Asselstine, adding the equipment, which was on order, was delivered about a year ago.
Weenink and the board has been reaching out to members over the last couple of months about programs and events they’d like to see. The Centre had 450 members in March 2020; now they have about 350 members.
One new program they have planned is Beginner Guitar which is slated to begin in October.
While they can’t mandate mask wearing at the seniors centre, members can choose to wear masks and whether they’ve been vaccinated or not are encouraged to wash their hands, stay home if sick and be cautious and aware that COVID-19 is still a risk.
When members sign into events, they are asked to fill out a quick health questionnaire, asking if they have any symptoms.
“We’re trying to take care of our members and make sure everyone is comfortable,” said Hamers.
The Sylvan Lake Seniors Centre is mainly a social club, with membership open to anyone 55 or older. Their mission statement says they “provide for the recreation, social well-being and artistic expressions of seniors of Sylvan Lake and area and to contribute to the education and social well-being of the community.” In the past, the Centre has hosted workshops on many types of hobbies in addition to practical concerns, like wills and estate planning and health and wellness.
In addition to Hamers, the board includes secretary Pat West, Treasurer Patti Parslow and Directors Laverne Asselstine, Monica Morcom and Laurie-Anne Lemmon. They are looking for someone to take on the role of vice-president and actively seeking volunteers to help with events and activities. Membership is $20 a year and members who sign up in early fall won’t have to renew their membership until Nov. 30, 2022.
For more information on Sylvan Lake Seniors Centre, call 403-887-5428.