McCauley Senior’s Program Update

New pilot program launched in November featuring lunch and activities

On Remembrance Day, November 11, a new senior’s pilot program began with 35 seniors in attendance. It included a free soup and bun lunch and activities. The whole purpose of the program was to give McCauley seniors a way to get together, make new friends, relax, have some fun, and share experiences.

Back in May, a short questionnaire was run in BMC News to ask McCauley seniors what activities they wanted, but few responses were received, except that a group of Chinese Seniors wanted to learn more about Canadian cultures. So, we decided to give it a trial run, sponsored by McCauley Revitalization. This initial program was just four Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Josephat’s Parish Hall on 108 Avenue between 96 and 97 Streets. The Tuesdays were November 11, 18, 25, and December 2.

Coffee and tea were always on, and lunch was served between noon to 1 p.m. Everyone agreed that the homemade soup was delicious. After lunch on the first day, the seniors had a chance to share their experiences of war and what it was like where they lived at the time. We had groups of seniors from China, the Ukraine, and several other places including Canada and the US. Several seniors shared what they remembered:

  • A Chinese lady said her father was in the war, and when he returned, he provided an example of how to be strong and stand up for what he believed in. She said she was very proud of him and she wanted to be strong like him to follow his example.
  • Another senior lady said she had served in the RAF, but when she asked to take pilot’s training, they referred her to a psychiatrist, because women didn’t usually pilot planes back then. * Another senior remembered the sirens on the west coast, which warned of a threat of enemy planes. Everyone had to turn out their lights to try to “hide” the big cities. Her family sat on the steps of an interior staircase in the blackness and whispered stories and sang hymns. She remembers the fear, even though she was just a toddler. She also remembers rationing of foods like butter and eggs. Her family listened to the big radio together to hear the news. When the announcement came that the war was finally over in 1945, her mother gave the kids pots and pans, and they went out in the street to bang them in celebration.

After talking about some of our war memories, we talked about what activities the seniors would like to do in the coming three weeks. Some said exercise, so we quickly did some easy stretching exercises. Some of the ladies wanted to learn how to dance the Cha-cha, so we brought music the next week. Before people left, we asked them to bring photos of their families and/or home to share with others next time. We also played various board games of their choosing, and had lots of fun.

We will hopefully have more senior’s programs again in the near future, so please watch for future dates, and be sure to come and join the fun.

Joanne McNeal, is a McCauley senior, artist, musician, teacher, and coordinator of this pilot program.

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