“Fun begins at 50” is the motto of the monthly newsletter published by the Echo Sunshine Club.
There is no doubt that this local organization, with more than 1,000 members, aims to provide excellent opportunities to men and women who want to take part in leisure and educational, regular and special events organized by the staff and volunteers.
The Echo Sunshine Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In October, special activities will take place to commemorate it. But first, let’s mention that the history of the Sunshine Club goes back to the year 1967, when Canada was rejoicing the celebration of its first centennial and the year our community was celebrating the amalgamation of the cities of Alberni and Port Alberni, and the opening of Echo ‘67 Centre.
For many in our community, the Sunshine Club is the place where social, physical and educational activities are available to those 50 “or better,” and where their members can meet with friends or develop new friendships.
“The Sunshine Club is a wonderful place to make new friends,” said Judy Pinchback, a resident of the Valley since 2013. “Actually, when I first joined the club, two and a half years ago, I felt part of the group right away as I was so welcomed by everybody.”
Daniel Watts, third term president of the organization, said the Sunshine Club is a place to get together and be in touch with other seniors while enjoying the various activities of the club.
He added that people can give their time by volunteering.
“I think that the Sunshine Club’s major contribution to our community is to offer seniors various opportunities to keep socially, mentally and physically active.” says Karen Freethy, Parks and Recreation liaison since 2012. “Some of the regular activities include a wide variety of interest – for example, hiking, kayaking, pickleball, floor curling, card playing programs, music, dance, fitness programs, social groups, digital photography, woodworking, travel, etc. Each activity is coordinated by a director, also a volunteer member. New activities are always being created so you would like to start an activity, we can do that.”
Added to the long list of regular weekly programs, Freethy and the volunteer committees plan special events throughout the year, such as “Tea and Bazaar” (October 14); a monthly dance, (opened to members and non-members); a monthly dinner at the casino; day trips and special long trips, like the upcoming trip to Croatia; the annual Christmas dinner and dance; a bake and craft sale in March; open houses, and the popular “Special Events” program, held monthly at Echo Centre.
A traditional feature of the Sunshine Club is the publication of its newsletter, available monthly to members and non-member alike.
“Our newsletter is an important means of communication which allows us to announce programs, highlight the club’s news and describe events and venues. We spend many hours working on it and additional time by the volunteers doing the collating,” Freethy said.
Daniel Watts, who was born in Port Alberni, has been a member of the Sunshine Club since 2012.
“It’s funny how this developed. I came to play crib at Echo Centre, and soon after I was asked to run for office,” he comments smilingly. “This is a worthwhile organization and I love it.”
Watts and the committees meet at general meetings five times a year and once at their Annual General Meeting.
On Oct. 18, there will be a special event to commemorate this milestone with a special program for the members and past members of the club. It’s a free of charge event, but there is limited seating.
Additional programs offered by the Echo Sunshine Club include: guitar lessons; arts and crafts; easy riding biking groups; clogging; light lunch service; gardening; quilters; Spanish group; painters group; Scottish country dancers; woodwork shop and more. For more information on programs and registration, as well as how to become a member, please visit the Sunshine Club office at Echo Centre, staffed by volunteer members, Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.