Seniors enjoyed a turkey dinner at the Eagles Hall. Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS

Maple Ridge seniors ride party bus to Christmas dinner

On Dec. 14, the seniors’ party bus dropped off residents at the Eagles Hall for a Christmas dinner.

More than 100 seniors enjoyed turkey dinner with all the trimmings at the third annual seniors Christmas dinner hosted by Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services.

And transportation was not an issue, as the seniors are part of the “Seniors Party Bus” program, formally named the “Seniors Activity Program.”

But the party bus does not have blacked out windows, bright lights, loud music, or dance poles.

The seniors’ party bus is simply a ride to and from fun outings around the community and is partly funded by the United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Any senior can join the program, and they’ll be added to a growing list of seniors who get invited on bi-weekly outings.

The goal of the program is to provide free door-to-door transportation to nearby destinations to help seniors create community connections, improve physical and mental health, and avoid isolation.

Margaret Waite met her friend Sheila Dingle through the seniors’ program.

“You get to know different people. It’s a fantastic social group,” added Waite.

And the best part – it’s completely free.

Community Services seniors activity program coordinator Sandra Salvador said the program started three years ago and that it’s “great to see how they [seniors] connect and make new friends.”

“They start going out on their own, they create new friendships. I’ve seen how they support each other when they need a friend to help them move to a different place, or if they need help with anything. They rely on each other which is great to see.”

When the group launched three years ago, Salvador said there were about 40 participants. And now the list of seniors wanting to join is so large that there is a wait list for some events.

“Seniors identify this as a positive program and word of mouth is huge. They hear their friends are coming out and they want to join the group. We are pretty relaxed, easy-going. They don’t see it as something they need to worry about paying for, getting to, or dressing up [for],” added Salvador.

Other outings include watching plays at the ACT Centre, trips to the park, lunches, and more.

At the Christmas dinner on Dec. 14, seniors ate, listened to holiday tunes, and watched a skit by the local boy scouts.

Santa also made a special appearance to take photos with the seniors.

The Maple Ridge Food Bank provided the turkeys for the evening, and seniors donated food items in return.

• To join the Seniors’ Activity Program, seniors can drop by the Community Services office at 22718 Lougheed Hwy., email Sandra at ssalvador@comservice.bc.ca or phone 604-467-6911 ext 1405.

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Margaret Waite (right) and Sheila Dingle (left) met through the seniors program. Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS

Bev Carmichael (left) attended the Christmas dinner with her mother-in-law Chris Carmichael. Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS

Mary had a visit with Santa at the Christmas dinner. Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS

Larry and Santa posed together for a photo at the Christmas dinner. Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS

(Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS) Seniors rode the “party bus” to the Christmas dinner at the Eagles Hall.

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