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    Chestermere Whitecappers Association Enters Its 38TH Year

    Seniors Connect Christmas Dinner
    Seniors Connect Christmas Dinner

    One of the oldest organizations in Alberta’s youngest city began as the Chestermere 50+ Club. The club was founded in June of 1983 by a resident of the tiny Summer Village of Chestermere, Jack Shaw.  Jack also became the club’s first President. In October 1985, it was renamed the Chestermere Whitecappers Association (“CWA”) and formally incorporated as a non-profit society.  The CWA has been serving the 50+ community of Chestermere, Rocky View County and area ever since. The associations name evokes the whitecaps on the lake on breezy days and also the white heads of hair that adorn many of our members!  In 2020, there were 220 members.

    The association’s  Mission Statement reads:

    “To provide a venue and opportunities for Chestermere and area seniors to gather congenially to keep in touch with each other and the community through organized social events, activities, informative presentations and entertainment;

    To receive information and have the opportunity to give input regarding services which contribute to their quality of life; and

    To foster fellowship and friendship which impart the comfort and security of living among caring friends.”

    After beginning as an informal club it became apparent that to best serve its members, a dedicated facility was needed. Consequently the CWA leased space in the original Recreation Centre, now known as the White Room. In 1997, the association began planning a “stand alone” seniors facility. However, in 1999 at the request of the Chestermere Regional Community Association, the CWA agreed to lease space in the Phase 2 expansion of the Rec Centre. In 2006  the association moved into its present space of over 4200 square feet.

    Currently, the CWA operates with zero operational funding from the City of Chestermere or Rocky View County and is run entirely by volunteers. The association relies on casino funds, membership fees and fundraising events to help cover expenses.

    Numerous studies and my own personal experiences have shown that being engaged with others in the community is a key to healthy aging. The CWA provides a safe and welcoming space for seniors at any stage in life addressing their physical, mental, educational and social needs. A Whitecappers membership is a tremendous bargain.  Non-members can also drop in for these activities and pay a small fee to participate. Some of the many activities members can enjoy are:

    • Physical Activities: line dancing, chair yoga, Tai Chi, carpet bowling and walk fit. Thanks to a grant from the City of Chestermere, the association runs fitness programs.  Led by a highly qualified fitness instructor, this program focuses on improving balance and fall prevention.
    • Social Activities:  morning coffee meetings, soup lunches, bridge, cribbage, board game nights, billiards, shuffle board, quilting, and art. Monthly themed potluck suppers are hosted, featuring members’ favourite dishes, as well as dancing and entertainment by local artists. Special occasion dinners include Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter,  and Robbie Burns Day, many catered by local businesses. The association also arranges discounted tickets to Stage West and the Rosebud Theatre.  Non-members can join in these events through ticket purchases and connect with seniors in the community.
    • Mental Wellness: For those of us who have lost our partners or close friends, loneliness can be a huge problem. In addition to providing a welcoming social circle, personal counselling services can begin with Sharron Matthewman.
    • Educational Opportunities: With a focus on health, safety and life enrichment, monthly “Lunch and Learn” programs coordinated with Sharron Matthewman and local topic experts cover topics like home safety, scam awareness, healthy eating, foot care as well as many other topics of interest. All these meetings are open to the public, where lunch can be purchased or brought by individuals.
    • Staying Connected:  In order to keep in touch with current members and inform the public about the association, the CWA has a web page  that can be found at whitecappers.ca.  In social media, the association regularly updates its Facebook page.

    New ideas for activities are always welcome.  In previous years kayak trips and lawn bowling for example, were organized for interested members.

    Like every other organization, Covid-19 has presented challenges. The association is committed to reopening as soon as possible and we will be able to adhere to all health and safety guidelines following AHS protocols.  During the shutdown we have been contacting members to ask them how they are doing and whether we can help with prescription pickup, groceries and meeting other needs.

    As our community grows, the Chestermere Whitecappers Association is committed to growing with it. If you’re 50+, a membership gives you tremendous value. New members are always welcome.  Once the CWA facility is re-opened and you are curious about the centre and wish a tour, email the association at chestermerewhitecappers@shaw.ca. A new membership in the Chestermere Whitecappers Association costs $35.00 and runs from February 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022. To join or renew, please contact Pat Shaw at patshaw242@gmail.com or 403-273-5108.

    I would like to thank Steve Jeffrey, publisher of The Chestermere Anchor, for this opportunity to tell the Whitecappers story.

    Seniors Connect is dedicated to sharing views, stories and topics written by seniors.  All seniors are welcome to contribute columns.  Please contact Don at cassidyd@telus.net in order to receive a copy of the column guidelines.  Editing is done as needed before publication.  Photographs are encouraged with columns. We look forward to publishing your column!