Feature Story                                                                                         Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The Grayed Escape

New life breathed into Seniors Recreation Centre

Staff/Voice photos


Coun. Jason Lum (L), MLA John Martin, Bill Higginbottom, Mayor Sharon Gaetz (C), Coun. Sue Attrill (second right) cut the ribbon last Saturday.


he Chilliwack Seniors Recreation Centre recently had a refit and on Saturday dignitaries were invited to a Grand Reopening event and ribbon-cutting.


One of the things the centre does is provide breakfast for the homeless.


"This has been a huge success and muchly appreciated in the community I can imagine," said Centre manager Bill Higginbottom. "The Country Music Jam Night is doing very well, it's been a very successful thing, and every Monday we have our Bingo."


There are a number of activities that seniors engage in at the Center such as painting, rug hooking, carpet bowling and there are even three pool tables in one of the back rooms. But Higginbottom said the Centre is open to suggestions for new activities and that the facilities can be rented.


Every Wednesday afternoon at 1 PM is Bridge. The Centre is trying to attract new players, so everyone is welcome.


Reasonably priced soup and sandwiches are available Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.


But it's a struggle to maintain what they have said Higginbottom.


"We're trying to keep these doors open and it's tough. Our overhead is tremendous and our membership is going down every day. Anybody who's not a member, we'll gladly accept your donations."


The Centre is one of 83 branches of the National Association of Federal Retirees (NAFR) with 185,000 members across Canada. They used to be known as the Federal Superannuates National Association, but changed their name to the NAFR because a lot of people didn't know what Superannuates meant.


“In our efforts to find volunteers for this place, remember one thing; don't just buy a membership. It's not just $20 for the membership, because that's kind of a leaf in the wind. What we need is input from people with ideas and people who are willing to institute the ideas. This place is privately owned,” explained Higginbottom. “A lot of people in this room that have been members of this club longer than I probably have been alive. But, you know what? We have to get young people involved and we have to get people that are going to volunteer. It's not just about people who buy a $20 membership and then go home and say 'call me when you have something happening.'



Bridge playing is one of the favourtite pastimes for seniors at the Centre.



“This place was formed in 1955, and the building in 1957-58. Some local housewives formed what they called the Chadaway Club. They pooled their money and ended up buying the building and improving it. It's just been a real success through the years and for all the seniors before us that carry this vision on. This building doesn't get any government funding — it's not one of these ones that have got their hand out every year at tax time,” he said.


"A huge thank you, not only for the work that you've put into remodeling this place and it smells awesome. Nice job. But, thank you for building our community. Just remodeling says a lot. I know that it didn't go without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I hope and pray that these walls will always be filled with laughter,” said Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz. “That they will be filled with people having fun. playing cards, playing bridge, painting. That these walls will always be filled with people doing their passion, and most of all you'll have friends that are close to you.”


“I spent a lot of time in this room. My wife for the longest time, was one of the Country Jammers playing dobro and slide guitar, and I see the transformation and all the changes that have happened, it's just wonderful,” said MLA John Martin.


“I can't say enough about how privileged I feel to be able to go about my business in this community. There are so many people who are so giving and so selfless with their time. I talked to my colleagues in Victoria about some of the great things that go on in Chilliwack and many of them are just astounded at what a vibrant community we have. There's no sector in the community that gives more to Chilliwack than our seniors. A place like this — with the activities and the opportunity for friendship and sharing — it's so heartwarming,” he said.


The Curbside Jazz Band, led by local teacher Gary Radysh, provided entertainment.


The Seniors Recreation Centre is located at 9400 College Street. The phone number for inquiries is 604 792 4549.


See more photos below.


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