Research shows that when seniors are engaged and connected to their communities, everyone benefits. People with strong social networks say they feel happier and healthier, plus, the community is made stronger from the wealth of knowledge and experience that retirees have to share.
The Dartmouth Seniors Centre (DSC) provides a connecting place in the heart of Downtown Dartmouth. It brings people together in a way that supports healthy living and social inclusion. The centre offers activities and meals for a nominal fee, and there are plenty of engaging volunteer opportunities.
“Basically, the centre is an open, warm and welcoming environment,” says Diane Rose, DSC’s Executive Director. “We have people coming from all over to have a meal or take part in some of our activities.”
A monthly calendar lists the abundance of activities that are offered from Monday to Friday. The choices include something for most everyone: cards, darts, painting, fitness, crafts, choir, field trips (the most recent was an overnight to Liscombe Lodge) and dances.
On a typical Tuesday a group of women is knitting in the large sunny common room. They laugh and chat as the needles click. In the dining room, a few tables are set up for lunch (corned beef & cabbage day is apparently a sell-out favourite, with fish cake day running a close second). At other tables, people are working on water colour paintings and wood sculpture. Later there will be bingo and bridge.
The on-site canteen offers snacks, and is staffed completely by volunteers, as are several of the other positions at the centre. “One of the ladies who mans our phones had her 90th birthday in June. She says she loves this place, and loves being involved,” says Rose. “We often have teen volunteers as well, and they are such a great addition.”
The centre receives some government support, but much of its funding is self-generated through program fees, fundraising and onsite catering.
“We’ve done everything from birthday parties to weddings in our dining room. We’re fully licensed, and the food is really good,” Rose says.
Rose says the centre fulfills a valuable role in the community, especially in this day and age.
“Families can be very spread out, and people can be so busy. It’s not always easy for older people to find someone to socialize with. But the Dartmouth Seniors Centre is a lot like a welcoming home away from home.”
DSC is located at 45 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth. For more information call 902-465-5578 or visit http://www.dartmouthseniors.ca/