Tom Makepeace, the new president of the Hay River Seniors’ Society, has two overall goals.
First of all, Makepeace wants the society to continue offering its many current activities and services to members.
“There’s quite a list of stuff that is taking place right now with the group of seniors that are involved in the seniors’ society,” he said. “So currently we’ve got to take over the reins of what was happening, and continue on with the things that we already have in place so that everything seems to still function as it has been functioning.”
Makepeace actually met The Hub with an impressive written list of current activities and services for society members – coffee five days a week, help for the visually impaired, a self-help group to discuss cancer, guest speakers, movies, card tournaments, monthly suppers, exercise programs like bowling and swimming, taxi rides to seniors’ activities and around town, and much more.
“We want to make those things successful but we want to expand them so that there are more people involved,” he said, while adding that communicating the available activities to the public needs improvement.
Makepeace said getting more seniors involved with the society is one of his big goals.
Secondly, the new president wants to move forward with new initiatives.
“What do seniors want?” he asked, “We need to hear from seniors. We have a newsletter that goes out to 200 people every month and yet we don’t get a lot of feedback on what we should be doing. If somebody has got a pet project they want to do, then let’s hear about it and let’s try to accomplish it, if we can.”
That could be new activities like dancing, artwork and woodworking.
Makepeace said it is good for seniors to become involved in activities.
“Believe it or not, your fitness level really depends on your outlook on life,” he said. “So if we can do stuff like that, keep those active groups going, for sure it’s going to make, I think, a big difference.”
Makepeace also has some other ideas.
One is to encourage people to make legacy donations – that is to say, include a donation in one’s will for after one’s death – to the Hay River Seniors’ Society.
As an example, Makepeace said the seniors’ clubroom – the Alice Cambridge Room at Whispering Willows Seniors Complex – exists because of a legacy donation.
“That was part of her legacy that she left,” he said. “And it would be good for other people to consider leaving a legacy to the seniors’ society for whatever they’re interested in sponsoring.”
Another of his ideas is to see the seniors’ society work with other organizations to fundraise.
“We donate money to funding groups, but why don’t we work together to raise funds?” he wondered.
Following the society’s annual general meeting on April 21, Makepeace – who was in Europe at the time of the AGM – and other members of the executive were elected in an early-May exchange of e-mails among the board of directors.
“It was all sort of co-operative,” he said of the election process.
Makepeace, who is retired from the GNWT, had been the society’s vice-president for the previous year.
Asked why he decided to become president now, Makepeace said, “Well, somebody has got to step up and do it. Somebody has got to make the effort to be president and vice-president, and people have to step forward for treasurer and secretary.”
His term as president will be one year.
Makepeace noted there are about 200 members of the Seniors’ Society, and perhaps 50 to 60 other seniors in the community who are not members.
Membership is open to those who are 55 years of age and older.