It may not have reached its golden years quite yet, but a long-standing centre in Vernon is marking quite the milestone.
The Halina Activity Centre is the city’s longest running seniors centre, having just celebrated its 49th birthday.
It was back on Dec. 10, 1954, the Golden Age Club was acknowledged as a society for the senior citizens of Vernon and area.
In the early 1970s, the usage of what was then called the Vernon Senior Citizens Centre was increasing in noticeable increments.
“There was a huge increase in members from 90 to over 400 in one year, to the point there was actually a wait list to become a member,” said Diana Williamson, current centre manager.
William Halina at the time was alderman of Vernon who contributed considerably to the community especially in the area of seniors. After stepping down from politics, he became even more involved and very active in Vernon’s Senior Citizens Centre.
He soon became president of the centre and in 1972 led the campaign for a much-needed expansion of the centre, which had a price tag of $150,000. With the assistance of the City of Vernon, provincial and federal governments, local businesses, clubs, donors, along with the initial $35,000 contribution from the Golden Age Club, the plans were put into place.
On Sept. 17, 1973, in his honor, the president opened the Halina Senior Citizens Centre, falling under the Vernon Senior Citizens Recreational Society.
The expanded space is recognized as the Halina room.
The Halina Centre is located in the back of the Vernon Recreation Centre. You can enter from the Priest Valley or outdoor skating rink parking lot or through the rec centre.
“Even with being in the same location for almost 49 years, many people do not know where the Halina Centre is located or how to get inside,” said Williamson. “As we like to say, come find the Halina Centre hidden within the Vernon Rec Centre.”
The centre is a non profit organization, which relies heavily on membership, rentals, the crafters and the kitchen to operate.
Membership is $25/year (that’s less than 50 cents a week), with activities costing $3 for members and $5 for non-members.
The centre offers rental spaces for meetings, activity groups, and family special events etc., free parking by the centre, a hearing loop to clarify speech for those with hearing aids, a large sprung dance and exercise floor, billiards, snooker and pool room and the Centre Café offering soup and sandwiches.
Regular activities open to everyone are: bingo twice a week, bridge, bus tours, canasta, crafts, carpet bowling, dancing to live music, darts, floor curling and educational classes along with new ones being added on an ongoing basis.
The Halina Activity Centre also hosts special events such as a monthly pancake breakfast, a seniors Christmas party and Spring Break Out in March.
“At the Halina Centre we are: Respecting the past, Honoring the present, Planning for the future.”
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