FRAGRANCE FREE ZONE
From the conception of a drop-in centre for Penticton seniors, the basic guiding principle has always been that it should provide a focal point for seniors of all income levels, without conditions. It was meant to provide facilities for leisure pursuits, special interests, and specific services at a minimum cost. That was the goal in 1994, and it remains the goal today.
The dream of a drop-in centre for the seniors of Penticton began more than a quarter century ago when a group of determined individuals became vocal advocates for such a centre to be built at the south end of Penticton. They believed it was long overdue citing that the nearby communities of Summerland, Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Peachland, Osoyoos, Keremeos, and Princeton all had drop-in centres for their senior citizens. Why not Penticton?
Recognizing that there was strength in numbers, these committed individuals began, in earnest, to rally the area’s ‘‘grey power.” Seven local seniors’ organizations held a meeting in St. Saviour’s Hall, and the enthusiastic group of attending seniors voted unanimously to form the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Centre Society. The seniors of Penticton had become a united voice.
Penticton’s new interim seniors’ drop-in centre held its first official meeting in December 1994 at the former Hansel and Gretel Motel. By February 1995, a full slate of activities was being offered – line dancing, bridge, whist, etc. As well, events such as potluck dinners and dances were being held. This site was to be leased until a permanent centre could be built.
Fundraising began in earnest in 1994 when it was realized that $1.5 million would be needed to bring the dream to fruition. A building site was still needed, and the perfect location on South Main was found: a former orchard that Henry Johansen had left to the City of Penticton to be used for the enjoyment of the city’s citizens. The location became a hotly-contested issue and, in the November 1996 municipal elections, there was a referendum question that read, “Do you approve the City of Penticton leasing approximately 3.5 acres of Robinson Park property for facilities to house a Senior Citizens Drop-In Centre including management, maintenance, improvements, operations, control and use.” Although it did pass, there were not as many votes as had been hoped.
On June 19, 1997, then-Mayor Beth Campbell broke ground for the project by taking the first spadeful of dirt from the building site at Robinson Park. Although the original plan for the centre had to be scaled back because of funding, there was a provision that, in the future, an expansion might be undertaken. The doors opened in 1999, and the seniors came, were welcomed, and immediately felt at home.
Our Present and Our Future:
Today, the Penticton Seniors’ Drop- in Centre plays a vital role in serving the needs of those individuals aged 50 and older. It is a non-profit society that is fully self-supporting and run by an army of amazing volunteers, including the Board of Directors, who serve so unselfishly. The one paid position is a building manager who oversees the daily operations of the Centre and is responsible for booking outside groups who use the space for private functions. The Centre is open five days a week with some special events being held on Saturday and Sunday.
Membership at the Centre continues to grow, and member expectations continue to evolve. As we look to the future, we recognize the importance of adapting to the changing needs and demands of people of different ages, cultural backgrounds, and physical abilities so they can participate fully in meaningful activities in order to age actively.
To meet the challenge of remaining an age-friendly community that meets the changing needs of diverse seniors will require the energy, wisdom, desire, and enthusiasm of the trailblazers of the past who worked so hard to see the dream of a safe, welcoming, and relevant environment realized. We are confident we will be able to meet that challenge.