Beverley Bailey, new Halina Seniors Centre manager, says the best thing so far is the warm welcome from the members, board of directors and the community.
“Everyone has been friendly and helpful and we’re all working together here to provide a variety of affordable programs,” she said.
The Halina Seniors Centre, formally known as the Vernon Senior Citizens Recreational Society, was the first seniors centre in Vernon and has been active for more than 40 years. It is located in the Vernon Recreation Complex and operated separately as a non-profit organization.
Members agree with Bailey about the welcome.
“I’ve been coming here since 2000 and I feel the centre to be a very friendly place. I feel like I’m at home. This is my second home. We love having new members come here and join us,” said Margaret Ams.
John Nordquist has been a member for five years.
“I do floor curling. I do just about everything here and I enjoy the entertainment,” he said. “Anybody who has never been into this building before should come here. The first thing I found when I came in here was that I was made welcome. People invited me to join in with whatever they were doing. There is so much friendliness. In the winter I come in here just about every day. There is so much to do here and you can find what you enjoy.”
The centre had been without a manager for several months, and volunteers, including the board of directors, kept it going.
“That tells you how much the centre means to them and the people who come here,” said Bailey.
“We have people with so many skills and so much dedication and we are going to keep the existing programs going and see if we can add more to make the centre even better.”
Bailey brings a wealth of experience in a variety of seniors’ programs to her new job. She first got interested in working with seniors when she was growing up in England and at 14 started her own program with a group of friends to assist veterans and other seniors in their homes.
“I loved being with them and hearing their stories,” she said.
She followed another interest and got her degree in theatre, then did costumes for the Royal Ballet. After she moved to Montreal, she developed programs for the 6,000-member seniors centre there and decided to get her degree in social work.
Her next move was to Vancouver where she developed two seniors centres for Fraser Health, as well as elder colleges. She was also active in other seniors centres and in seniors day care programs and managed a Kinsmen Community Seniors Centre. She moved to Vernon in October.
“I couldn’t have arrived at a busier time. But I am getting so much support. Our big project for December is our Christmas Dinner which can have up to 400 people attend. We are grateful for the help of service groups and businesses to put this on for all seniors, not just our members,” said Bailey.
The centre and members are proud that they can now offer a hearing loop, donated by Rockwell Audiology, which will make it easier for people with hearing aids to attend activities.
Halina Seniors Centre has more than 400 members. The centre offers activities from card games, bingo and other games, to crafts, fitness groups and dancing (it’s said to have one of the best dance floors in town). A number of community groups have their meetings at the centre, including music groups. There is a monthly pancake breakfast and the cafeteria is open to the community for light lunches and coffee/tea and snacks Monday to Friday. The gift shop has handwork by the crafters’ group.
Halina Seniors Centre is open to people 50 and over. For more information about the centre or tickets to the Christmas Dinner (full turkey and ham dinner and entertainment, $15 each) call 250-542-2877.