A new seniors centre will open next Thursday (Sept. 6) at the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Social Services Centre, providing weekly drop ins for the senior community.
A $16,000 federal grant provided to the Mature Action Committee (MAC), a non-profit formed in 1995 to tackle seniors issues in Whistler, allowed for the opening of the Seniors Drop In Centre.
MAC President Sue Lawther sees the move as essential for Whistler’s seniors.
“The baby boomers are the first senior demographic that Whistler has had, so we have no senior infrastructure in place,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to build the infrastructure that seniors need to age in place.”
The bulk of the grant went to equipping the centre with purpose-built furniture, laptops, ping-pong tables, a flatscreen TV for seniors to play Wii and a barbecue for social and fundraising events.
Lawther hopes the venue will become “a place to call home” for Whistler seniors. According to Census Canada, there are 1,975 Whistler residents over the age of 55.
“For seniors, having a meeting place, having somewhere that they can hang their hat becomes very critical, not only for the social aspect of things… but also to be able to have a place to put all our resources,” she said.
Lawther hopes that the centre will help the committee reach out to some of the seniors that have yet to enjoy the organization’s many services.
“We have a lot more isolated seniors in the community than we knew about,” she said.
The non-profit currently has around 250 members.
The centre aims to provide more intergenerational programming, subsidized by the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS), in Whistler. She said talks are underway with Whistler Secondary to open a community garden on school grounds that will be tended by seniors and students alike.
She also hopes that tech savvy youngsters will come in to teach seniors basic computer skills on the centre’s brand new laptops.
The facility will enable the MAC to host speakers and information sessions for local seniors, which will be offered at a small fee.
Outside of special events, the drop-in centre will be open every Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m.
Lawther promised that more programming would become available as demand grows and that Melissa Deller, the WCSS’ seniors advocate, is available to the community five days a week.
The Senior Drop In Centre’s grand opening will take place next Thursday (Sept. 6) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a short presentation and ribbon cutting featuring MP John Weston and Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.