Sooke branch #88 became a charter member of the B.C. Old Age Pensioners & Seniors Organization in 1964. The main goal of those first dedicated members was to create affordable seniors housing and provide a voice for senior`s issues. A housing society was formed and the community worked together and raised enough funds to buy land in 1969, near the town center. Gradually they were able to build small cottages. The work continued by volunteers for 40 years and the long ago dream was finally realized when Ayre Manor Lodge opened the first phase in 2006.
In the beginning Sooke OAPO branch meetings were held in member`s living rooms, then at the community hall. In the early 2000’s the Seniors’ Drop In Center was opened in the centre of Sooke by then President Dorothy Burris and volunteers. This provided a social gathering place for seniors five days a week, with lunches, teas, games, workshops and events. It was a welcoming place for new people to Sooke and the building was used by youth in the evening. The building was sold and much has been lost.
Through the years many of the same volunteers started Contact Cupboard, Meals on Wheels, purchased the Seniors’ bus and provided many services to the community.
The latest project for the Sooke branch 88 members was the Orange Bottle Program which provides information to first responders called to a home for an emergency.
The Sooke branch celebrated the 50th Anniversary in May, with an event at the Legion and held the final meeting on November 18. It has not been possible to find a President and Secretary to continue on. The loyal members are now very elderly but without a permanent venue it is difficult to attract younger members. The branch can no longer function. The Seniors Bus is having the same problem and is in need of a manager to carry on the service.
The B.C. O.A.P.O aka B.C. Pensioners & Seniors Org. advocate to governments with resolutions which are issues of importance to whole communities, as well as seniors.
The provincial O.A.P.O is grateful to Sooke for 50 years of support for the many issues in housing, health care, environment and degradation of services.
We encourage the younger generations to share their knowledge, energy and wisdom by continuing the valuable work as volunteers in this special community.
Regional Director OAPO