A Sense of Belonging

When Mary Anne Davies moved back to Vancouver in 2005, after several decades in Ontario, she knew she wanted to live in the Kerrisdale area – and that she wanted to be involved in the community. And she is very involved. Mary Anne is the Past Chairperson for the Seniors’ Council and is a former Senior Council Representative on the Kerrisdale Community Centre Board.

Well-spoken, poised and elegant, Mary Anne says that she feels a strong need to be involved. She wants to support others who might be insecure, shy or need someone to talk to. She loves to make sure that everyone who comes to the community centre – especially the Seniors Centre – is treated with respect, consideration and made to feel welcome. She explained: “Our community is diverse; there are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration. For some of our community centre members, English might be their second language. Others might be families working to adapt to life in Canada, and for our seniors, they might now be alone and struggling to make ends meet or to take care of themselves.” She added: “From the subsidized seniors’ lunches we serve six days a week to doing small things like having a special celebration each month, there are so many things that happen here that pull people in and that make them feel a part of something positive. I believe it is important that we create a sense of belonging for one another. We do that here – and we do it well.”

Mary Anne also takes exercise classes and participates in the Changing Aging program, which targets mobility and injury prevention. The exercises focus on mobility and stability through strength, endurance, balance, coordination, agility and flexibility training. She said that not only have these classes and programs been good for her health, they have been good for her social life to. “I have met so many good friends here.”

Mary Anne says that the solid circle of friends that she has met at the community centre have become a big part of her life and have given her a real sense of belonging. Mary Anne explained: “When a person walks through these doors, they can always find someone to talk to. It is so welcoming and friendly, and it’s like that for every person who comes here – not just those of us who have been around for a while. It is so important for each of us, including seniors who might not have a big social circle outside of the centre.” She added: “We have all seen those studies that say that having friends and a solid social circle helps people live longer, happier lives. Well, the people who come to the Seniors Centre are a great example of this. What happens here matters to real people, individuals who count on the community centre and each other for companionship and other elements that make life so much better.”

 What Mary Anne Wants the Park Board to Know

“We won’t sit back and allow the Park Board to come in and change something that is working – and working very well. There are so many people who will be negatively affected – from youth to our seniors. The Kerrisdale Community Centre is an important part of this community – we need it and we need each other. I think the Park Board needs to know that the seniors here are active and, together, we have a loud voice. I want them to be aware that we are here and we are watching what they are doing – and we don’t want them to do anything that is going to negatively change this centre. We will fight back.”