Happy Family Seniors’ Club is 43 years old and still going strong thanks to the support of its volunteers and contributors.
It was founded in 1976 by 12 volunteers whose passion was to care for pensioners. They started off with six members, entertaining them in their homes, and within a year membership swelled to 26, all local, many living in council houses.
Two years later they decided to legitimise themselves and decided on the name Happy Family Seniors’ Club.
Founding member Irene Arnould has since moved to Britain to join her family but the club continues and presently has 45 members.
Among them is Kate Woof who became a volunteer about 15 years ago when her mum died.
Her husband, Tony Woof is a golfer, a member of the Saturday League of Gentlemen’s Supper, better known as the SLOGS. This group of 24 golfers get together every Saturday, when available, to play at Westlake Golf Club.
Mr Woof says members of Happy Family Seniors’ Club survive on what is left of their government pension, of about R1 700 a month, after paying rent of about R900.
For most, the monthly outings and meetings, now held at St Pius X Church in Southfield and organised by the volunteers are the only time these pensioners get out.
Mr Woof says each member pays R5 membership fee which goes towards the highlight event of the year, a three-course Christmas lunch.
Once a year the SLOGS go on tour, usually along the Garden Route.
Part of the tour is to host an auction where each member donates a prize that is then auctioned to raise funds for the seniors’ club.
Most of the money goes towards covering the full cost of the Christmas lunch. Last year they raised enough to pay back the members’ contribution and add extra money towards the gift each member received.
Mr Woof said this hamper of goodies is so large and heavy and would not be possible without the efforts of the volunteers. These 15 women drive the members to appointments and so on, bake cakes, cut sandwiches and serve tea. Some organise monthly events with speakers and outings. Over the years they have had tea at venues including Kirstenbosch, Rhodes Memorial, Red Sails, Dixies, Jubilee Square and the Galley Restaurant.
They used to go on outings in the Lion’s Happy Bus until it became too expensive. On one outing to Camp’s Bay one of the members did a vaudeville act up and down the aisle.
They have been wowed by magicians and serenaded by choirs and bands from schools including Wynberg Boys’ High, Plumstead, Timour Hall, Bergvliet, John Graham, Grove Primary and Westcott.
In a newsletter, Ms Arnould writes that they used to go to movies.
She tells of one funny trip.
“Initially conscious that a film should not have blood, gore or sex in it I nearly died when the opening credits showed a scene of a beautiful woman wearing black lacy underwear. Afterwards, Henry Hawkins, who since had a triple bypass, said he felt years younger and was dying to see Pretty Woman again”.
Bingo was popular until Pick-a-Box took preference, bringing out the gambler in many. Also, each senior receives a birthday gift every year.
The club has had various chairpersons over the years including Joan Medcalf who was at the helm for 12 years and Eleanor Steele who was known for all the chocolate brownies baked over the years.
The volunteers continue to thrive on a team spirit and look forward to many more happy Christmas lunches and outings.
For more information, contact Lauren Mackay Leslie at 083 232 4396.