A local resident is volunteering her time to organize a Senior Fun Day at the Merrickville Community Centre. Diane Harvey-Hart is a long-time employee of Community Living North Grenville. She works out of the Merrickville Outreach Office and visits three nursing homes in North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford, Rosebridge Manor, Hilltop Manor and Bayfield Manor, on a regular basis.
After attending a conference in Cornwall in the late 1990s, Diane came up with the idea of putting on a Senior Fun Day to get the seniors from the nursing homes she visits out and about, socializing and having fun. She calls it a “reverse inclusion” initiative, because the fun day welcomes all seniors, not just those with developmental disabilities.
This will be Diane’s 25th year organizing the Fun Day, which draws 60-75 seniors every year. “One year we had almost 80,” she says. In the first few years, the theme of the day was “Fit and Fun”, to encourage seniors to stay active as they age. The day usually includes lunch, some sort of entertainment, and an educational component.
This year, the Fun Day will include a pancake lunch, complete with sausage, baked beans, pancakes, and homemade donuts. Diane got the idea because the pancake houses during maple syrup season are not usually open during the week, and she didn’t want the seniors to miss out on such a great Canadian tradition. The entertainment for this year will be the square-dancing group, The Gremlins, and the theme will be “Ireland”.
Diane says she has continued to organize the Fun Day every year, because she sees how much the seniors look forward to it. It gives them the opportunity to make friends with people from other nursing homes, and it is often the only time they get to see them throughout the year.
Diane is always looking for volunteers to help organize the Fun Day. It is a true community event, with some of Diane’s younger clients from Community Living helping with the organization. “It’s important for the people we support and for the volunteers themselves,” she says.
This year’s Senior Fun Day will be on Monday, March 25, from 10:30am-1:30pm. There is a small fee of five dollars to cover the cost of the lunch and renting the Merrickville Community Centre, which the Merrickville-Wolford Council is renting to them at a reduced rate. The nursing homes will be organizing transport for their residents, but anyone else that wishes to come out is welcome. If interested, you can contact Diane at the Community Living Merrickville Outreach Office at 613-269-2663.