Carol Pinalski and Elaine Day get ready to play bingo at the newly located Seniors’ Drop-In Centre.

Seniors’ drop-in centre has long history in Sooke

The drop-in centre comes full circle to the Sooke Community Hall

Some form of drop-in centre for seniors has been taking place in the Sooke area since the mid 40’s. As the Sooke community grew a need developed to assist with seniors’ care and activities in a more formal way.

In 1945, Emily Nixon came to Sooke and shortly thereafter formed the Mothers Union in the Anglican Church. She was also recognized as the initiator of Sooke’s Over 60’s Club, the forerunner of the Old Age Pensioners (OAPO) organizations that followed. Members of the OAPO Branch #88 were instrumental, with Phyllis Johnson deserving special mention, in setting up the Sooke Elderly Citizens Housing Society and the Contact Community Assistance Society (Loan Cupboard & Contact drivers).

In about 1969 Margaret Simpson moved to Sooke, joined the OAPO #88 and started driving for Contact. By 1975 Margaret was doing the cooking and clean up after three-course meals on Thursdays and sandwich meals on Tuesdays, taking up the banner from Margaret Money who cooked throughout the 60’s & early 70’s. Faith Jacobson also deserve special mention for her efforts through the 1980’s. Many people contributed to the successes that were to become the Sooke Seniors’ Drop-in Centre. Margaret continued doing this for 25 years, with the help of many others in the community.

Two OAPO branches, 109 & 88, were active in the Sooke area during the 1970’s and 1980’s and they eventually merged to remain as OAPO #88, now called the B.C. Pensioners & Seniors Organization, Branch #88. The New Horizons Activity Society was formed in the 1980’s which later became the Sooke Seniors Activity Society (SASS). SSAS raised funds to purchase and operate a bus to assist with seniors’ transportation to events and shopping excursions. A smaller group kept the New Horizons name to become the New Horizons Contract Bridge Club.

The Sooke Senior Drop-in Centre Society was established in 2003 “to provide a facility for seniors over 50 years of age to have the opportunity of visiting with both new and old friends, playing games, reading, knitting or just relaxing in comfortable surroundings.”  Membership is open to any person having reached the age of 50 years and who has residence in British Columbia.

In 2010 the society was given notice to move as the building that housed the drop-in centre was being sold. With no suitable space available at that time, the Sooke Volunteer Firefighters Association offered the temporary use of their lounge until a more permanent home could be found. SSDIC and partnering seniors-based organizations are tremendously grateful to the firefighters for their generosity and support. That temporary arrangement lasted until July, 2013 when they were again asked to vacate so the firefighters could renovate the space in celebration of their 100th anniversary.

No larger, more suitable space being available, the drop-in centre moved back into the dining room of the Sooke Community Hall, from whence they started.  The Sooke Meals on Wheels Society utilizes the space Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leaving only Tuesdays and Thursdays for inexpensive lunches, socialization and BINGO.

The Sooke Senior Drop-in Centre have created a ‘visioning’ document as a base to begin discussions, make connections and develop partnerships to work towards meeting the needs of our communities, whether this is a standalone, single capacity space, shared functionality, or a multi-use Community Centre with a range of co-located organizations working in partnership to support a variety of community needs.