They’re called Young Seniors Action Group (YSAG) and they offer Shawnigan Lake area seniors friendship, resources, outings, and all kinds of activities.
You may not have heard of YSAG but they’ve been around for quite a long time, quietly serving a need in the community, according to president Shirley Chmielewski.
“This group has been around for quite a while, more than 10 years. We have a bunch of things we do: crafts, knitting, computers, play canasta, chess, bridge, all different things so seniors can enjoy being with other seniors and learn things at the same time.
“It gets people out of their houses and into the open, which is why we do this. Now we have about 120 members who belong to the association. They’re not all involved in every activity but they’re all into something,” she said.
“We do outings with them. We might go to the Imax theatre and then go to dinner afterwards. We have potlucks. It’s quite a list. And any senior is welcome. We’re located at the Legion, and we do a lot of things at the Legion also, and help them out because they help us. Not many people get to know all that we do. We’re trying to get that knowledge out there for everyone.”
One of the events where she, herself, volunteers is the seniors lunches at Cobble Hill hall.
“We started with just a few people on every second Monday of the month but it’s grown. We go in on Sunday and we prepare a big meal and we serve it to them on Monday. We charge only $6 and when I say a meal I mean coffee, tea dessert, hot roast beef, or pork, or lasagne — whatever we can afford. We’re up to about 140 seniors now who come out,” she said.
The main aim of all the YSAG activities is to get people out of their houses.
“We want to get them out to see seniors they never get to see. And, we found a lot of seniors don’t get a nice hot meal. They just love it. And they can afford it, too, because you can hardly get a coffee for $6 nowadays. It’s just grown so huge for us.
“I also try to let them know about the YSAG and what we do and it’s making them feel a lot better because they now know there are some things in the area to do. There’s a lot of lonely seniors out there. And there’s a lot of seniors who can’t afford a hot, decent meal. It’s amazing what I’ve learned from my volunteering, absolutely amazing,” Chmielewski said.
“And any other suggestions that seniors make, we’ll definitely look at them, too. That’s how we started. A lot of them like to go to the Chemainus Theatre so once a year we make an outing of that and we take a whole bunch up there. They get to see the theatre and have a nice lunch out.
The May calendar for the group http://www.ysag.ca/calendar-1 is a clear indicator of just how much there is to do.
Along with the activities listed above, there’s a walking club for men, and a walking club for women, a theatre art group, zumba, folk art, quilting, line dancing, wood carving, tai chi, and a “busy hands” group, just to name a few.
The YSAG’s Photography Group, for example, meets every other Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in very informal sessions where any and all photography questions will be discussed. The goal is to learn photography in a relaxed atmosphere and help both the beginner and the more advanced photographer.
The best way to get hold of any YSAG members is to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Malahat Legion at 250-743-4621 and ask about the seniors programs.