August 22, 2012

Seniors group welcomes Erin participants

As published in The Erin Advocate

Erin seniors who are looking for a broad range of interesting social activities may want to get involved with the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association (GWSA).

Of course, it does mean getting yourself over to the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre, on Woolwich Street near Speedvale Avenue in Guelph, but for many people, that is not a problem.

More difficult, perhaps, is the prospect of meeting a bunch of people you don't know. But as one the largest seniors associations in Canada, with almost 3,000 members, chances are you will find others with similar interests. The group has a mandate to serve all of Wellington County, so why not take advantage of what is available?

"The more, the merrier," says GWSA representative Pat Gage.

The GWSA mission is: "To empower older adults to be active, to be involved and to age successfully." The membership fee is only $22. Go to for information, or call the centre at 519-823-1291.

I am not suggesting that anyone ignore the excellent services for seniors offered here in Erin by East Wellington Community Services (EWCS). The Seniors Centre at Centre 2000 is home to the Day Program for frail seniors and those with dementia, as well as a variety of weekly exercise, craft and card-playing events for more active seniors.

There are other local services such as foot care and hearing clinics, day trips, home help and guest speakers. Go to for more information.

The Guelph group does things on a scale that is not possible in a small town. They have 90 organized programs, four full-time staff and more than 500 volunteers. They raised half of the $3.2 million needed to build and equip their 25,000 square foot seniors recreation facility, which opened in 1992, and now have an annual budget of more than $500,000. Major funding comes from the Ministry of Health, as well as the United Way, and there are some activity fees.

The centre not only has activity rooms, but a small library, a computer room, a billiards room, a gym/auditorium (with shuffleboard) and a dining room, plus outside activities such as golf, walking, canoeing, skiing and skating.

Courses are offered in everything from Chronic Pain Management to Watercolour Painting, and Yoga to Internet Social Networks.

Programs include a monthly hot lunch for isolated seniors, and senior volunteers who help other seniors find services they need, especially to live independently at home as long as possible. There is nutrition counselling, and the option of weekly in-home visits from a trained volunteer to help with exercise.

A newsletter called The Sentinel comes out 10 times a year, on paper or via download, as a forum for comments and a source of information on seniors issues. They have an on-line newspaper called Take Advantage of Your Seniority, at

GWSA information is also available at, plus Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Flickr, and of course, Twitter.

Their Twitter feed has 1,492 followers, including me, and it is consistently interesting. My Twitter feed is interesting too, but it has only 33 followers. I guess I need to post more often and promote myself more aggressively.

Maybe I'll get around to that next month. My employer of the last 20 years has just gone into receivership, and I'm not ready to retire, so I've got some more urgent fish to fry.