Rosemarie Gauthier (left) and Lorraine Semrick were among the women wearing fascinators to the OAPO celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Vernon Branch.

Rosemarie Gauthier (left) and Lorraine Semrick were among the women wearing fascinators to the OAPO celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Vernon Branch.

OAPO advocates for seniors

Old Age Pensioners Association Vernon Branch 6 celebrates its 55th anniversary

Vernon Branch 6 OAPO (Old Age Pensioners Organization) president Jessie Crawford-Brown welcomed the members to the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Vernon Branch 6.

“Thank you to all of you who are wearing fascinators. As well as the fun stuff we do, we’re doing some serious things for seniors, behind the scenes sometimes,” she said.

Fred Coates, president of the B.C. OAPO, brought his greetings.

“It’s branches such as this one that have made the organization what it is today. You are doing a lot on behalf of seniors,” he said as he presented Crawford-Brown with a certificate with the saying, “Seniors must be recognized as an asset to society, not a burden.”

Life members Nora Aten, Irene Bieller, Eleanor Down (not present), Keith Kennedy,  Marjorie McGee, Ann Sieleski and May Stacy were presented with rose corsages.

“They’re roses because that means we love them all. It’s a real honour to have so many life members in one organization,” said vice-president Annette Kazmar.

Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert, wearing a festive bow tie, said, “Seniors are an asset to society. Your wisdom and knowledge is much appreciated.”

The B.C. OAPO was founded in 1932. The Vernon branch has been active in provincial and local initiatives to benefit seniors since 1956.

In 1956, the OAPO worked for a raise of $5 per month to bring the Old Age Security cheque back to $20 per month, the same as the first OAS cheque in 1926. In 1963, the organization called for a pension of $85 per month for all Canadians over 65.

Locally, the branch, with the leadership of Eleanor Down, helped build affordable rental housing with the construction of the 146-unit McCulloch Court, which opened in 1978.

Ongoing projects include: craft and bake sales; an annual scholarship for a high school student related to a member; participating in wreath laying at the Remembrance Day celebration; memorial donations to honour deceased members; financial donations to community organizations, The Salvation Army, Community Dental Access Centre, Hospice House and others.

The OAPO is concerned with all aspects of seniors’ lives, including, pensions, taxation, finances, health issues, home support, medicare and Pharmacare, housing and rental issues, social safety, abuse, neglect, fair treatment and loneliness.

Everyone attending received cookbooks from McCulloch Court and gift packages from Tea Desire.

The Vernon OAPO meets the third Tuesday of each month at the Schubert Centre. New members are always welcome. People of any age can become members to show their support for the organization. Membership is $10 per year. For more information call Kazmar at 250-275-2760, Ed Tanaka at 250-545-3552, Edgar Wolf at 250-545-0075, or Gloria Hanna at 250-545-2045.