Gerry found belonging and togetherness with fellow seniors at Spencer House.
“I’ve been a senior for more than 40 years!” says 96-year-old Gerry, who could talk for hours about the people she’s met and the experiences she’s had at Spencer House Senior Centre.
Gerry moved to Halifax in 2009 after the death of her beloved husband. And even though she had one her of daughters close by, she was worried about being lonely. One day she gathered up the courage to drop into a seniors’ centre she had heard about just down the street. She remembers being greeted by a friendly woman named Anne, who would later become a close friend. Within minutes, Anne had not only convinced Gerry to join Spencer House, she also convinced her to volunteer!
“She asked me what I was good at. And I told her that I liked people. So Anne said, ‘That’s great!’ and immediately left me sitting alone at the reception desk to answer the phone while she went for a swim at the local pool,” Gerry laughs.
From that day on, Gerry went to Spencer House at least three times a week. The United Way Halifax-funded program is a refuge or second home to many Halifax seniors. They offer daily social activities, games, exercise classes and homemade lunches, along with a theatre program, medical clinics and educational workshops. For Gerry, it’s really the people “of her own vintage” that keep her coming back.
You can’t burden your children with your worries – I’m sore, I’m lonely, I’m afraid to die… they have their own things to deal with and worry about. But you can bring all of that to Spencer House if you need to.
Even this past year, after moving out of the city to live with her daughter, Gerry still manages to drop into Spencer House every week. And of course, she’s welcomed by staff, volunteers, and members alike.
This place changed me. I must admit, there was a time when I might’ve thought I was better than a place like this, but boy did I have a ‘comeuppance’ when I first came here. See, when you’re a senior the playing field is levelled. You’re all worried about the same things – your health, your loneliness, and being a burden.