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GWSA aims to wow residents with 'Seriously? Seniors?' event

All-day, June 10 event to include an afternoon concert featuring the Silvertones Choir and Silver Strummers
20220525 Evergreen Seniors Community Centre AD
Jennifer Blackie, left, and Anne Sneyd in front of the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre, home of the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association.

The Evergreen Seniors Community Centre on Woolwich Street is a busy place, but officials there hope to see it get even busier.

Home of the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association (GWSA) since 1991, the centre hosts up to 40 activities for residents over the age of 55 and their partners. Currently, the GWSA has around 2,300 members, but is always encouraging new residents to join. 

"There's three-wheel bikes here for people to ride on, we have a walking club, there's golfing, things like that. There are a lot of things here that keep people active, not just mentally, but physically," said Wenda King of GWSA. 

The GWSA is inviting residents to learn more about the organization and its activities during, '"Seriously? Seniors?" This Is Your GWSA Today!' which takes place Friday, June 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information about the event can be found at gwsa-guelph.ca.

King said one misconception about the centre is that it is a retirement community when it's more like a drop-in centre for seniors. 

"There's something here for every senior to be able to participate in and enjoy and be with people, make friends and be active in the community," said King. “This is why the open house is not just open to members, but the public as well.”

The GWSA was created in 1988 and offers other services besides activities, including a cafe, health services and access to external resources. 

Jennifer Blackie, a long standing member of the GWSA, said a large part of the centre's appeal is socialization. 

"You're isolated at home, if you're widowed for instance, you can come in here and meet people, and have a coffee with them, and sit and talk, you don't have to join in anything," said Blackie. 

During the upcoming event, there will also be an afternoon concert featuring the Silvertones Choir and the Silver Strummers, a ukulele group. About 80 performers between the two groups are expected to take the stage at the auditorium at the Evergreen Centre. 

"It will offer something for everybody in the different genres that we play," said Anne Sneyd, director of the Silvertones Choir and director of the Silver Strummers. "There will be some very old tunes, some very new tunes, a few audience sing-a-longs, it will be as fun for the audience as it will be for the performers." 

Sneyd explains the Silvertones Choir is formally known as the Guelph Senior Citizens Choir. Prior to 1980, the group helped contribute money to the development of the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre. It had planned to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2020, but when the pandemic hit, the group postponed the event.

The Silver Strummers came together during the pandemic. Sneyd said the ukulele was a good option for seniors as it is user-friendly and has fewer strings than other string instruments. She was able to purchase the instruments, equipment, music stands and binders with a New Horizons grant.

"We felt very strongly that we should do an inaugural concert, and how to do that without taking anything away from the Silvertones big anniversary, and so we decided that doing something together was the most appropriate thing, so that's what we're doing on June 10th," said Sneyd. 

After two years of the pandemic, Sneyd said isolation was a real challenge for the organization, resulting in the loss of volunteers and members. Today, the GWSA is slowly returning to its pre-pandemic state as members resume activities.

“I don’t think we can underestimate or understate the tremendous shock the organization took," said Sneyd. "It was just like having a door slammed in your face and there was no knob, there was nothing, and the members, all of us, felt adrift, in one way or another, as did all of society, and to be able to regroup during this time in small ways, it was an enormous accomplishment.”

With their doors wide open, the GWSA hopes to raise more awareness of its work with local seniors. Blackie notes there are possibly thousands of people from Guelph who may not have heard of the organization before. 

"We want people to go away saying, 'Seriously? Seniors? They do that?' They sure do!" adds Sneyd.


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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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