Eighty years ago Gandhi was arrested, Aldous Huxley published A Brave New World, the Lindburgh baby was kidnapped and it was the demise of the Dominion of Newfoundland. In 1932, the non-partisan, non-sectarian B.C. Old Age Pensioners Org. was born. It was the middle of the Great Depression and battles were being waged by the Old Age Pensionsers Organization against all levels of government opposing unjust action of the pension board. The OAPO offered to take up “all causes of members who have been unjustly treated.” This is still the purpose today.
“A lot of people don’t know who we are and what we do,” says Shirley Lowe, Regional Director South Island O.A.P.O. “Since it is the anniversary we want to let people know what we stand for.”
The OAPO is an advocate for seniors. The local Branch #88 has much to be proud of in their 48 years. They purchased the property on which Ayre Manor Lodge now stands and set up the first Seniors’ Drop-In Centre. Branch #88 has also crafted resolutions on seniors’ issues for presentation to the provincial and federal governments.
“We get ideas from each community on issues and present them to the federal government, and we keep abreast with what’s going on with seniors,” said Lowe.
The branch survives on membership fees, which are $12/year, with $6 going towards the B.C. OAPO board to finance yearly conventions, board meetings and other expenses. There is also a scholarship fund for students majoring in geriatric care.
Their meetings are held at the Seniors’ Drop-In Centre now located in the firefighters lounge at the municipal hall. The drop-in centre provides a social atmosphere with lunches, bingo, cards and Scrabble. It’s a place where seniors can go to meet with others, go on the seniors’ bus on outings and shopping trips.
The Sooke Elderly Community Housing Society monitors and oversees Ayre Manor Assisted Living and Complex Care.
What the seniors would like though is a place to call their own. They appreciate the space they use at the municipal hall, but like many groups a single-use building geared for seniors would be ideal.
“There are many volunteers who keep these organizations available to provide the services for our senior population. All require more members and more volunteers. New comers and new members are invited to join the local branch.
“The social aspect of getting together, offering our experience, knowledge and wisdom will better our community and other communities,” said Lowe.
Branch #88 will be holding their next meeting on Wednesday, Feb.1 at 1 p.m. upstairs in the firefighters lounge on Otter Point Road. Lunch is served at noon.
Bring some ideas and join us to continue the tradition of speaking for seniors.
“Old age is not contagious,” said Lowe.