YWCA Hamilton’s Seniors’ Active Living Centre 55+ Opens its Doors Again!

Quick escape link leading to Weather Network websiteQuick Escape Group photo. Left to right: Tara Weiderick, Manager, Seniors & Community Wellness Programs; Medora Uppal, CEO YWCA Hamilton; Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroetsch; Stella, Seniors Committee Chair; Pete Weisner, Ontario Trillium Foundation; Robin Mech, Supervisor Active Living Centre 55+.

An epicenter of friendships, personal in-person connections, and community over generations – YWCA Hamilton’s Seniors’ Active Living Centre 55+ opens its doors again!

 

YWCA Hamilton was proud to welcome back our seniors and community, and unveil the refreshed Seniors’ Active Living Centre 55+ – MacNab Street on March 21st. In attendance were over 100 seniors, staff, guests from Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroetsch, and CEO Medora Uppal.

 

Reopening on the centre’s 49th anniversary, Robin Mech, Supervisor Active Living Centre 55+, MacNab Street, expressed that this milestone was the perfect occasion for an open house, a moment for everyone to experience firsthand what the centre and its community have grown into over the years.

 

The Seniors’ Active Living Centre started as an initiative to provide affordable programs and services for adults over 55 to promote physical and emotional well-being – with programs focusing on skill development and social programs to build community and build connections with other seniors. The centre has been enriching and supporting independent active living ever since.

 

However, as COVID-19 pandemic forced us into our homes, our community saw an increasing need for more low-barrier and safe spaces for women and gender-diverse folks experiencing homelessness. Our seniors, then, stepped up to support their community, shifted their programs to be virtual, community & telephone based so that the centre at MacNab could allow for the development of Carole Ann’s Place (CAP) from a temporary winter program to a permanent, year-round program that addresses and supports this growing need.

 

Carole Anne’s Place now provides access to a safe place to sleep, meals, access to showers, low-barrier health care, harm reduction and withdrawal management services, navigation and shelter referrals, advocacy, care planning and coordination to the women and gender-diverse folks visiting the drop-in.

 

Starting in 2020, the seniors shifted their programs to be virtual and digital. Even after the lockdown was lifted, the seniors have had their social gatherings and programs at different spaces at MacNab. Thanks to the generous support of Ontario Trillium Foundation, whose grant funding supported energy efficiency upgrades, new sprinkler system and the Seniors’ Active Living Centre renovations, we are able to return seniors to their designated refreshed space with the same old friendships and new connections.

 

Pete Wiesner, from Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), shared that Ontario Trillium Foundation recognizes how important it is for the seniors to have a place to call their own and that OTF is proud to support the community.

 

Robin further shares that the centre is a place where friends reunite and share stories of their long-standing connection with the YWCA. With the challenges due to COVID-19 lockdown, the seniors and the centre have faced a lot of changes. And despite those, there’s a sense of communal acceptance and resilience. Robin adds that change is a natural part of life.

 

YWCA Seniors’ Active Learning Centre 55+ is a place where history, friendships, and community thrive, and it doesn’t end there. The centre has been a part of the YWCA for generations – Robin has taught gymnastics to children whose parents and grandparents are now members of the Seniors’ Active Living Centre.  This reopening has been both a homecoming and a fresh start for the seniors’ community at YWCA Hamilton. Old friends are reconnecting and new connections are being formed.

 

Looking forward, we aim for everyone to leave feeling more connected. We wish to witness even more hugs and heartfelt remarks like, “It’s so nice to see you again,” and “I’ve been thinking of you, how have you been” like we did at the open house.

 

Ending on a note of gratitude, Robin emphasized that the centre is not just about its past but also about its future – that it is abundant. She also acknowledged the crucial roles played by the YWCA Hamilton’s Health and Wellness team, Facilities, and the dedicated volunteers whose countless hours of support have been instrumental in the centre success and existence.

 

These renovations have been made possible thanks to generous contributions from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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