Karen Freethy converses with Keith Adams, a Sunshine Club volunteer, at Echo Centre. ORLANDO DELANO PHOTO

Karen Freethy converses with Keith Adams, a Sunshine Club volunteer, at Echo Centre. ORLANDO DELANO PHOTO

VALLEY SENIORS: Karen Freethy dedicates her life to recreation

Alberni’s Echo Sunshine Club benefits from her knowledge, enthusiasm


Special to the News

Karen Freethy has been associated with community recreation for many years in Port Alberni. After coming back from her post-secondary studies at the University of Victoria, where she obtained a degree in Recreation Leisure Services, she moved back to Port Alberni to pursue a career in recreation with the City of Port Alberni.

“Over the years, I have worked on programs for children, youth, adults and seniors. I have enjoyed working for each demographic,” says Freethy. “All age groups provide exciting opportunities and valuable community initiatives.”

In 2003 she started working with the Port Alberni Parks, Recreation and Heritage Department. She worked on children’s and youth programs for many years and then changed her focus by working on adult leisure programs for several years. Starting in the spring of 2012, after a brief retirement, she moved into working on fitness and seniors’ programs, including work with the Echo Sunshine Club.

Freethy has coordinated a variety of special events throughout her employment with Parks and Recreation and Heritage, including: Our Town,“Sunshine Club Tea and Bazaar, Seniors Week, Sunshine Club Craft and Bake Sale, Sunshine Club Open House, February Family Fest, Family Literacy Day, Family Day Celebrations, First Night, Walk With Your Doc, Health and Wellness Fairs, Community Living Fun Fair, Easter Bunny Express, Starlight Movie Night and Halloween Swim.

The dynamic involvement of this well-known practitioner has contributed to place our community among the best in the province in the field of leisure and recreation. “I believe in the value of community events and believe they help create a healthy, vibrant community,” she says.

“I chose this line of work not only because I am an active person myself, but also someone who believes in the value of recreation and leisure as an integral part of the people’s well-being and something that helps the community.”

Freethy, who was born in Port Alberni and lived in Victoria for nine years, is currently the parks and recreation programmer, a position she has held for 16 years, and is responsible for the coordination of dozens of fitness and leisure related activities for seniors in our community. Under her coordination, the Sunshine Club offers a wide variety of programs for its members, from classes and sessions on pottery, painting, line dancing, tai-chi, ukulele, to card games, carpet bowling, quilting, Spanish lessons, among others. All these programs, along with special activities and seasonal programs are detailed in the monthly “Echo Sunshine Club Newsletter” she puts together along with members of the club. The newsletter is available free of charge to the membership and others in the community.

The Echo Sunshine Club is about to celebrate its 52nd anniversary since its foundation in 1967. It has more than 1000 members and over 300 volunteers.

“The Sunshine Club is an amazing organization for active adults and seniors! We offer a wide range of activities to include many interests. There is something for everyone,” she says.

In addition to her busy schedule, Freethy has pursued education and experience with the Community Emergency Response Program, specifically in the area of Emergency Social Services.This training helps to provide food, shelter and support for a Reception Centre and Group Lodging during an emergency. “This work is satisfying as it is wonderful to be able to help your community during a time of need.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

The bulk carrier ‘Port Alberni’ is berthed at CentrePort in Wellington, New Zealand on Monday, April 12, 2021. The carrier is 174 metres long by 29 metres wide, flies under a Hong Kong flag and was carrying logs. (CHARMEAD SCHELLA/Special to the News)
Logging ship a trip down memory lane for transplanted Canadian

The 174-metre ‘Port Alberni’ is registered in Hong Kong

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
A little girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read