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Good Neighbours roll out welcome mat

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It’s always welcoming to have a good neighbour — and that’s something the Good Neighbours Active Living Centre has in spades.

The organization welcomed approximately 50 new members at a party held Nov. 28 at the centre, located at 720 Henderson Hwy.

Executive director Susan Sader said invitations were mailed to the 180 members who had signed up for the group in the past six months. Those who were able to attend jammed into the club’s multipurpose room for socializing and snacks.

Sader said welcoming parties have been held for the last five years to help newcomers feel like they are part of the group.

"It’s hard, especially when you’re new here and you don’t know anybody," said Sader, who has seen membership rise from 850 to 1,125 people during her decade on the job. "(People have) that opportunity to socialize with other people who are in the same shoes, maybe it’s their first time here."

Sader recalled two ladies who met at a party for new members and are now "like sisters".
"They always come to the teas together. They go to the movies together," she said. "It’s very, very nice."

Kay Thomson, vice-president of the centre’s board of directors, added she’s seen several old friends reunited thanks to the centre.

"The lady recording people coming in today was just seeing somebody that she was welcoming, and they went to school together," said Thomson, who has been a member of the club for 16 years. "It’s incredible, people that haven’t seen each other for years, and through Good Neighbours, they are reacquainted."

The GNALC operates with help from its approximately 280 volunteers, several of whom are aged 80 or older.

"We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers," said Sader. "A lot of them are in positions of responsibility. We had a used bookstore that’s completely run by volunteers. We have a volunteer who co-ordinates the running of the bookstore. The same with Hobnobs Café. It’s open Monday to Friday, and again, it’s all run by our volunteers."

Sader added volunteers also perform tasks such as office duties and leading various programs around the club.

She said new members are always welcome. The club’s annual membership is $30, although Sader said consideration is sometimes given to those who face financial hardships. There are several free events for members, while numerous other programs ranging from active living to creative pursuits are also offered.

Those looking for more information can visit the club’s website at www.gnalc.ca.

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