Seniors’ Drop-in Centre set to re-open

Another new home has been found for Sooke's seniors

Space now at community hall

The Sooke Senior Drop-in Centre Society (SSDIC) will be opening its doors again on Thursday, September 26 at 11:30 a.m., this time at their new ‘temporary location’ in the Dining Room of the Sooke Community Hall (Eustace Road entrance).

“We are pleased to be able to keep our doors open,” said Carol Pinalski, SSDIC president. “Though it is coming back to where we started from and dropping some services. Our previous ‘temporary’ location lasted almost three years.  We certainly hope to have a more permanent home long before that time frame is up!”

The move from the Sooke Road location to the firefighters lounge created a 60 per cent loss in membership due to accessibility issues as well as a drop- in service frequency.  While the dining room of the community hall is more accessible, being at street level, it is smaller and the washrooms are more of a challenge. Returning to the community hall, from whence they originally started in 2003, means another drop in space and services though they will be able to provide two lunches and two Bingo games per week.

“We are going to try for one hot lunch a month, on a Thursday before Bingo” Gerry Quiring, director and kitchen coordinator said.  “It will be a challenge to offer the two on the same day but we are looking for some extra help.”

Though Sooke and area has a relatively young population compared to the provincial average, between 2006 – 2050 the number of people aged 60 will double. By then, there will be more seniors than children (aged 0–14 years) in the population for the first time in human history. The need for a space for seniors to meet and socialize will only increase over time, and so will the costs.

“A number of other local organizations are looking for homes at this time as well,” said Marlene Barry, chair of the Sooke Region Volunteer Centre and Seniors Connections Coordinator. “Now is the time to bring these groups and interested citizens together to help develop a plan for shared space with programs and activities for all ages.”

To this end, SSDIC board of directors worked with Nicky Logins, chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Community Health and Social Initiatives, and with Barry to create a visioning document.

Service providers, non-profit organizations, local politicians and volunteer groups all are aware that connecting in the community and maintaining social supports are essential to good health and well-being throughout life.

The Sooke Community Hall has long been the central meeting place for residents from East Sooke to Shirley and even further afield.  It still plays a valuable role in our community though it faces some challenges due to its age, including the lack of accessibility to many areas. In its present state it cannot meet all of the needs of a drop-in centre and there are no other suitable locations available. SSDIC directors have been seeking a long-range solution for over three years.

While at the Sooke Road SSDIC membership was 240 with approximately 90 active members regularly attending. One hundred light lunches were served per week and two hot meals each month, serving approximately 90 at each sitting. Two Bingo games were played per week with an average of 30 participants. Due to the change in venue from there to the Firefighters Lounge, membership dropped to 140 members (80 active), serving 50 to 60 lunches per week and one hot meal per month. Two games of Bingo were offered each week with approximately 20 to 24 people attending.

If you would have ideas on this topic and would like to be involved in future conversations around a drop-in or community centre, please contact Mayor Wendal Milne 250-642-1634 wmilne@sooke.ca or Nicky Logins 250-642-5152 nlogins@sfrs.ca

For a copy of the SSDIC Visioning Document contact Carol Pinalski (250)664-6612 qeo@shaw.ca