Seniors celebrate 25th anniversary of drop in centre

GEORGE BROWN/Ponoka News

Ponoka residents in their golden years met April 10 to recognize the silver anniversary of their clubhouse and maintain a link to the community’s past.

Twenty-five years to the day that the $436,84 Ponoka Drop In Centre opened to a crowd of 185 members and well-wishers, seniors gathered for cake, coffee and celebration.

Reeve Gordon Svenningsen emceed the afternoon’s program and congratulated the group for its foresight in seeing the need to expand to serve an aging population and determination in building and maintaining a thriving drop in centre for 25 years.

After the separate men’s and ladies’ clubs merged in 1974 it was soon realized that a larger building would be needed to accommodate the growing membership and to provide opportunities for more social activities.

Mayor Norm Nelson, now a member of the seniors’ group, turned the sod to start construction on Jan. 10, 1986.

Coun. John Jacobs represented the Town of Ponoka at the celebration and brought greetings on behalf of Mayor Larry Henkelman.

“I was very impressed to learn of the many initiatives and programs that the Ponoka Drop In Centre has spearheaded and supported over the years,” Jacobs said. “As a Senior-Friendly Community, Ponoka values the knowledge and enthusiasm that seniors bring to our town. The drop in centre has remained a vital focal point to bring seniors together in the town.”

Jacobs said council is proud of the seniors’ group and the success of the drop in centre. He presented the club with a certificate honouring the milestone.

“Your efforts and initiatives are well received and recognized within the our community and we wish you many more successful years.”

Four past presidents of the Ponoka Drop In Centre were on hand for the program: Sheila Debney, Bill Vold, Henry Rutz and Gary Nelson.

Svenningsen said the seniors are encouraging the next generation of volunteers. He left the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards presentation to attend the anniversary of the drop in. “Many of the people we recognized as Leaders of Tomorrow are your grandchildren or great-grandchildren.”

He hinted Ponoka County council would look favourably on a request from the drop in centre for financial assistance. “We are all about community and we like to see these things flourish in the community. We’re only too glad to help if there are major things to be done.”

President Dorothy Houghton explained that in the late 1970s a group was determined to expand the opportunities for seniors in Ponoka. They took a lot of criticism for their decision to spend nearly half a million dollars on a clubhouse but undaunted, they persevered. That core group included Henry Rutz, Catherine “Twig” Taylor, Hughie Roberts, Doris Howell and John Tiltgen.

“Great credit is due to John Tiltgen for his persistence and his unending concern for every detail involved in the construction of the new facility,” Houghton said.

Almost every business and service club in Ponoka and a long list of individual donors contributed to the fund raising project to build the hall, Houghton explained. “It really was a community effort to get the building erected and paid for.”

Sheila Debney recognized the dedication of past members for the dedication in making the drop in centre a success. “May their enthusiasm continue to flourish through the years in this, our home away from home. We encourage all seniors to become a part of our happy family.”

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