Ac­tiv­i­ties grow for club mem­bers

New Hori­zons 50+ num­bers grow with peo­ple find­ing plenty to oc­cupy in­ter­ests

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY SUEANN MU­SICK

A lo­cal se­niors club is shat­ter­ing an old stereo­type that peo­ple over the age of 50 like to rest.

At the New Hori­zons 50+ Club, a per­son would be hard pressed to find some­one in the group sit­ting qui­etly in a cor­ner watch­ing time pass by.

“It is a hap­pen­ing place,” said New Hori­zons pro­gram of­fi­cer Terry Dono­van. “There is a per­cep­tion of ‘se­niors club’ but that is not what hap­pens here. You read any­thing about se­niors to­day and they are ba­si­cally say­ing se­niors should be able to live in their com­mu­ni­ties, be able to so­cial­ize and thrive in their com­mu­ni­ties. We are liv­ing longer and this is a place where this hap­pens.”

The club’s grow­ing list of weekly ac­tiv­i­ties is proof of that. It hosts crib­bage, scrab­ble, women’s and men’s pool, line danc­ing, choral group, euchre, women’s cir­cle, con­tract bridge, auc­tion 45s and pass the ace.

Dono­van said there are even be­gin­ner groups that teach peo­ple how to play these ac­tiv­i­ties in case some­one might be a timid about jump­ing in with oth­ers who have been par­tic­i­pat­ing longer.

“Ba­si­cally we have full range of ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on,” he said.

New Hori­zons has dou­bled its mem­ber­ship in the past few years from 150 to 300 mem­bers. The wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties at the club help draw in mem­bers, either lo­cal res­i­dents, or visi­tors through­out the sum­mer months.

It has mem­bers from across the county as well as from cen­tral Canada and the United States.

“We opened up our mem­ber­ship to as­so­ciate mem­bers which is highly un­usual,” Dono­van said. “We have said if we want our club to con­tinue to grow we have to get younger club mem­bers in here.”

At age 45, peo­ple can join as as­so­ciate mem­bers, which al­lows them to en­joy all of the ac­tiv­i­ties of any other mem­ber­ship but they can’t hold of­fice or run a pro­gram.

“We had peo­ple in­quir­ing that would like to come to line danc­ing, but they were not old enough ac­cord­ing the by­law,” said club pres­i­dent Len Thomas. “It’s not only good mu­sic, but good ex­er­cise.”

The group also takes some of their tal­ent on the road. The choral group was plan­ning its first out­side gig in the com­mu­nity, said in­struc­tor Mona MacDon­ald, who wel­comed new mem­bers to come to their Thurs­day prac­tices.

“It’s all singing,” she said. “We do golden oldies, clas­sics, folk and gospel. We have four men so we still need some more men. If you love singing you can come. My only motto is that you start to­gether and end to­gether.”

The club also opens its doors to ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing non­mem­bers, the sec­ond and fourth Sun­days of each month for jam ses­sions led by Jim Mac­Carthy, who is also chair of the New Hori­zons 50+ club’s board of di­rec­tors.

He said the past few jam ses­sions have seen 12 mu­si­cians come to­gether from 2 to 4 p.m. and take turns play­ing a song. At­ten­dance has seen as a many as 40 peo­ple fill­ing the hall.

Mem­bers have also hit the road with bus trips to spe­cial events in both Nova Sco­tia and Price Ed­ward Is­land.

Mem­ber­ship to the club is $10 for the year and there are low fees to par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, line danc­ing is a dol­lar a ses­sion while pass the ace is $5 but in­cludes 50/50. The build­ing is also avail­able for rentals.

Money raised goes to­ward the build­ing’s op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance. The club has also re­ceived gov­ern­ment grants to help with ma­jor projects such as new siding, in­su­la­tion and roof as well as up­grad­ing the build­ing so it is ac­ces­si­ble and bar­rier-free both in­side and out.

The ren­o­va­tions cou­pled with the grow­ing mem­ber­ship makes for a bright fu­ture for the club and its mem­bers.

“The se­nior pop­u­la­tion in the prov­ince is grow­ing rapidly and peo­ple want things to do and be­cause of the ded­i­ca­tion of these peo­ple here run­ning ac­tiv­i­ties we are grow­ing,” said Dono­van.

SUEANN MU­SICK/THE NEWS

From the left, Gor­don Thomp­son, Jim Mac­Carthy, Ralph Ben­nett and Bar­bara Rus­sell en­joy a game of crib­bage at the New Hori­zons 50+ club in Pic­tou.

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