How a lonely senior found friends

Some members of the Reserve Mines Seniors and Pensioners Club enjoy a game of cards  Wednesday including, from left, Winky MacLean, second vice-president;  Jeanette Grant , treasurer; and Mel Bryden, first vice-president. After going through hard times a few years ago the club has had an amazing comeback. It now has more than 90 members and plenty of activities, from dances to exercise classes, cards and line dancing.

“I was one of those seniors that was home and very ill,” he said. “I was lonesome, lonely and depressed.”Bryden said his wife Brenda had to work in the day, so he was home a lot alone.About two years ago, Bryden heard about the Reserve Mines Seniors and Pensioners Club and decided to check it out.”This was it was an avenue for me to go out and meet friends so I didn’t have to be by myself,” he said. “I was afraid to be by myself.”He said the club has made him feel part of a community, that someone cares.

He hopes others will get the courage to do what he did and check out the club.

“There’s a lot of people out there alone, scared, depressed,” he said. “They don’t have to be alone.”

The club had issues for several years, and Bryden joined at a time when the old board had resigned and efforts were underway to revitalize it.  He jumped aboard to help and is currently the first vice-president.

He said the success of the club today is a result of a lot of hard work from a group that always steps up to the plate, starting up a lot of fun activities, from dances to exercise sessions, line dancing and even periodic “fun nights.”

He said the club even does some catering now, through an extremely active ladies auxiliary.

Last year they were able to get some funds from the East Cape Breton Community Health Board to increase activities.

“It was to get seniors out of their homes in the winter to get involved.”

Jeanette Grant, a retired teacher, joined the club a few years ago. She had been going to the club previously to play cards and was hearing people saying they weren’t happy and wanted to see change.

“It was like a place no one wanted to go to. There wasn’t a homey feeling.”

Grant joined the club and, in the meantime, the executive had resigned. She was part of the efforts in rounding up new members. She said it has all turned around.

“You can see the difference now. It’s a friendly, social caring atmosphere. When you walk in the door you get a smile.”

As well she said you can call any member of the ladies auxiliary, they are there.

“We put Christmas decorations, put trees up, had a fun night and now we’re going to make turkey soup in a couple weeks.  We are all really good friends.”

Winky McLean joined the club more than 20 years ago. He said there is a big difference today.

“There are new members and some older members stayed, everyone all works together now.”

Members come from Donkin, Glace Bay, Dominion and even Sydney.

MacLean said there’s plenty going on at the club and the members get involved.

“Our ladies auxiliary is second to none.”

Bryden said even the community has come on board to help them. He said one of the projects at the club was replacing their 30-40 year old chairs.

“They were cloth, stained, just a mess,” he said. “We needed to raise $6,000 to buy 80 chairs; we ended up raising $9,000 to buy 140.”

“There were a lot of groups that were very good, the Bank of Nova Scotia and some local business people and even local residents.”

Bryden said the club raises money in various ways, including with hall rentals, 50/50 tickets, dances and special dances throughout the year. He said if anyone out there wants to support the hall in any way to help keep it going, they’d appreciate it.

“The money from the health board ran out; we are working hard to raise funds so we can keep doing what we do, bringing the lonely out.”

He said everyone in the community is excited about the turnaround in the club.

“Anyone wishing to be a member just drop by and see what it’s like. We’d love to have you.”

If anyone wants to learn more about the club or to book the hall, telephone the treasurer, Jeanette Grant, at 902-842-5006.


• Sunday, darts at 7:30 p.m.

• Monday, line dancing, 2-4:40 p.m., TOPS, 6:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, exercise class 11 a.m.-12 noon.

• Wednesday, the quilters use the hall noon-3:30 p.m.

• Thursday,  titness 11 a.m.-noon; 8 p.m., 45s card game. There is a $3 charge for cards, which all goes back into prizes.

• Every third Saturday a dance is held at the club with music by GTO and a lunch provided, 8:30-12:30 a.m. Admission is $5.

• Beginning Friday, Jan. 22, there will be a weekly karaoke/open mike night beginning at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $2 which goes back in prizes.

• The club has a fun night every second month, a night where they cook food at the hall and play games. Everything is free.

• The club raises funds through dances, 50/50 tickets, catering and hall rentals.