| Apr 09, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - April 9, 2009 Ribbon cutting officially opens new seniors’ centreby Julie Druker

Applause erupts after George Meldrum (2nd from the left) cuts the ribbon at the official opening of the seniors’ center in Sharbot Lake.

The former manse of the United Church in Sharbot Lake attracted a large crowd at lunchtime on Monday, April 6 for the ceremony that officially opened it as the new home of the seniors’ centre.

The new centre will be run as a partnership between the Centenary Pastoral Charge and Northern Frontenac Community Services.

Community members and volunteers instrumental in making the dream project a reality crowded into the newly renovated house that will serve seniors in the community through a number of existing programs.

Town Crier Paddy O’Connor opened the ceremony, which included addresses by Mayor Janet Gutowski, North Frontenac councillor Elaine Gunsinger; Reverend Patsy Henry, the former minister, and Eric Wagar, chair of the Centenary Pastoral Charge; along with Roger Dowker, David Townsend and Candace Bertrim, all of the Alzheimer Society of Kingston.

Catherine Tysick, who heads up the Community Support Services for North Frontenac Community Services and who was instrumental in initiating the project, held up a plaque that will be put on permanent display in the center. This recognizes the financial contributors: the Centenary Pastoral Charge United Church, the United Way, the Community Foundation of Greater Kingston, the Alzheimer Society and community members.

Reverend Patsy Henry, also instrumental in the project, spoke about the history of the building and its new birth as a seniors’ centre. She dedicated the building as a house of “Hessed”, the Hebrew word for “God’s unconditional love“.

Eric Wagar pointed out that this is the first time in the charge’s 42-year history that its three United churches (Parham, Maberly and Sharbot Lake) have come together to support a community project.

The transformation of the house into a comfortable, attractive space with kitchen, full bathroom, laundry facilities, a bedroom for guests, plus offices and a board room, was largely due to the work of volunteers.

Tysick pointed out, “It’s really been a community effort. So many volunteers gave of their time. If we had to pay for the labour for all of their work, we wouldn’t have been able to do this”.

The beauty of the centre lies in the fact that it can now house under one single roof various seniors programs including the Alzheimers Society, foot care, the Adult All Day Program, Meals on Wheels, and the Caregiver Support Group, all of which have been, until now, housed at different locations.

Roger Dowker, president of the Alzheimer Society of Kingston, was thrilled to have a permanent place to offer their services. He explained, “People here preferred to have someone from the community serving them so this seems like a natural extension of our services.” Candace Bertrim, also of NFCS and a public education coordinator with the Alzheimer Society, will now be available to members of the community regularly two days a week.

Tysick explained, “The real idea is having a designated place where real services can be provided and tailored to seniors. With a house like this we can also now try to expand our services.“ She hopes to bring in additional services in the near future, specifically from the Hearing Society and the CNIB. Tysick added, “We wouldn’t charge them rent if they could get themselves here. It would be a way for them to connect with seniors in our community so they [the seniors] wouldn’t have to travel to Kingston”.

The formal ceremony was brought to a close as members and guests crowded into the centre’s living room to witness George Meldrum of Sharbot Lake do the honours and officially cut the ribbon. Lunch, cake and coffee followed and visitors had a chance to tour the newly renovated house.

It was an emotional, important and historic day, celebrating the birth and the future gathering place and service centre for elders in the area.

To enquire about services offered at the centre, volunteer opportunities or to pledge financial support, please call the seniors’ centre at 613-279-WELL (9355) or Community Support Services at 613-279-3151.

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