Helping seniors get out of the house, distributing meals, staying active and so much more has been a daily part of the Teapot community centre for 40 years and that dedication was celebrated with a gala last week.
The borough of Lachine recognised the importance of the senior’s centre through the presentation of a plaque from Mayor Claude Dauphin. “They do so much for the community,” said the mayor. “For some people it’s the only time
Member Jan McConnell and her husband would take walks around Lachine after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago. Passing the Teapot, they were always welcomed, even though they weren’t members yet.
The community centre was like an anchor for the pair. On Teapot organised shopping trips, Jan would stock up while her husband stayed back and talk with Frank, the bus driver. “It improved him,” said McConnell.
A new initiative
In 1976, a program to combat isolation for seniors was being established and three people hit the streets of Lachine, going door-to-door for paint and wallpaper donations.
With hard work, mismatched sofas and a few ads in the Messager Lachine, the Teapot was born, and 40 years later it is still providing valuable services to 550 seniors in Lachine and Dorval.
“I call it my Teapot family,” said Vera Osidacz, who is on the board of directors and is one of the original three who got the organisation off the ground. The smiling faces and festive atmosphere at the anniversary gala are a testament to that closeness.
The not-for-profit community centre has evolved over the years to meet the needs of a new generation of seniors: baby boomers. “The demographic of the new geriatrics is going to be very different,” explained Osidacz. “They’re not going to want to play bingo.”
Yoga and health centered activities are part of the programming, while trips and shopping excursions help get members out of the house and socialising while increasing autonomy.
“Like attracts like”
Constantly changing to meet the demands of the community is one way the Teapot has stood the test of time. Becoming more bilingual is another. At the onset most members were anglophone. Now, the centre sees 50-50 French and English. More men are getting involved as well.
The volunteers are another part of the secret to the longevity of the Teapot. “They’re wonderful . . . they keep in mind what you’ve said and follow up on it,” said Jan. “I could cry, everybody’s been so great.”
At the same time the staff works with their heart. “Like attracts like,” said Osidacz. “We’ve been trying to hire people who had the same kind of destiny in life to help, and not just get a paycheque.”
In Lachine, 15.6 per cent of the population is over 65-years-old, and 18.7 per cent in Dorval, according to Montreal en Statistiques.
To join the Teapot, located at 2901 St. Joseph Blvd., please call 514-637-5627 or visit theteapot.org
What’s in a name?
Bill Simons was the head of the new senior’s organisation, that stemmed from the Lachine Senior Citizen’s Resource, in 1976. After hiring Vera Osidacz and Mario Tassé to get things running, the group still needed a name. After much discussion, they chose “The Teapot,” representing the time taken for tea to socialise with friends and relax. A copper teapot became the sign for the centre, something that led passer’s by to drop in, thinking it was a tea house.