Cake, burgers, hot dogs, punch, ukuleles, dignitaries.
All were on hand Sept. 17, a sunny Monday afternoon, as Vernon’s Halina Centre, located at the Vernon Recreation Centre, turned 45.
“We are a family,” said current Halina Centre president Jean Crittenden to the crowd of close to 50 people on hand. “This is where we come to get our sanity back when we can’t stand looking at four walls at home anymore.”
Manager Diana Williamson said back on Dec. 10, 1954, Vernon’s Golden Age Club was acknowledged as a society for the city’s senior citizens.
In the early 1970s, the usage of the Vernon Senior Citizens Centre was increasing in noticeable increments.
“There was a huge increase in members from 90 to more than 400 in one year, to the point there was actually a wait list to become a member,” said Williamson.
At the time, William Halina was a Vernon alderman who contributed considerably to the community, especially in the area of seniors. After stepping down from politics, Halina became even more involved and very active in the Vernon Senior Citizen’s Centre.
Halina, as centre president, led a campaign in 1972 for a much-needed expansion to the centre, which had a price tag of $150,000. With help from the city, provincial and federal governments, local businesses, clubs, donors and the initial $35,000 contribution from the Golden Age Club, expansion plans were put in place.
On Sept. 17, 1973, Halina opened the Halina Senior Citizens Centre. The room the 45th birthday celebration was held is called the Halina Room.
“It’s for that reason and dedication that we are able to celebrate the accomplishment of William Halina, and all the hard-working members who had a vision of providing a place that addresses the social, educational and recreational interests of those 50+, helping to enhance the quality of their lives,” said Williamson.
Mayor Akbal Mund brought best wishes from the City of Vernon.
The current centre’s board of directors were also acknowledged: Carol Bidulka, Suzanne Zupp, Richard Fausten, Maureen Hallstrom, Debbie Otway and Mary Viala.
“Without them, and the many, many hours that our amazing volunteers contribute to this centre, we wouldn’t be able to ensure the centre’s success and continuance,” said Williamson.
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