The KIK 50 Plus Seniors Club headquartered in Irricana has been a safe haven for senior citizens in Kathyrn, Irricana, Keoma, (hence the acronym) and the surrounding areas for 40 years, offering fellowship and fun in the form of potlucks, card games, movie nights, and more.
The club, which was incorporated in 1981, was originally formed to gather together seniors from the farming communities in northeast Rocky View County for companionship. As members moved away and the club’s reach increased, it grew to include members from Airdrie, Calgary, Strathmore, and Red Deer.
Susan Crowdis, club president since 2017, said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the fellowship KIK provides has become increasingly important to the members and communities it serves.
“It is a place for seniors to get together and have fellowship and friendship,” she said. “It’s a place to support our seniors, especially during COVID – it’s been so important to have friends that you feel safe with and it’s just a safe and fun place to come for the seniors.”
She added during the pandemic, the club had to cancel many of its scheduled events and programming, including monthly potluck dinners, games of cards and pool, weekly arts and crafts times, and a twice-monthly movie night with pizza and popcorn.
Previously, the club also hosted game nights and occasional outings to neighbouring communities for dinner and live theatre. During COVID-19, the club had modified its offerings to include outdoor gatherings and events.
“But this year, we were able to have a barbecue and a corn roast,” Crowdis said. “And then we have our Christmas party coming up, so we’re actually getting that this year.
“And we have a party for our 80-plus members once a year, and for some of them, the only time they see each other is at the party, because they can’t get around anymore. The fellowship is really important [for them].”
Crowdis said this year, the club’s membership count even surpassed 100, with nearly a third of the members over the age of 80.
KIK acts as a non-profit organization with a board of directors consisting of 10 people, including a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and six board members, of which, three are elected each year.
“[The board] has been the ones who have had to make the decisions about what we can and can’t do to stay in compliance with the COVID rules,” Crowdis said. “Honestly, I’ll be so glad when [COVID] is over, not just me, but everybody.”
According to Crowdis, the reason for the club’s longevity has been its board of directors and volunteerism, without which the club would not be what it is today.
“The biggest secret to success for the club is volunteerism,” she said. “We have members who put in thousands of volunteer hours in a year.
“It’s just unbelievable how many hours people volunteer, even when we do our potlucks, the volunteerism is huge.”
Longtime KIK member and volunteer Elaine Schultz joined the club in 1994 after the president at the time, Rose Hayes, changed it to a 50-plus club so she could join. Schultz served as club secretary until 2009 when her husband fell ill. She continued to serve as travel advisor and expert until last year.
“[In 1994], they thought it was a good idea to get some younger people in there too,” Schultz said. “I was [the] secretary and travel person first, and the first few years it was off and on, but after [many years] they gave me my lifetime membership.
“I’m not the oldest member, but I think I’m the longest-attending member.”
Schultz said after she had moved to Irricana, she didn’t know very many people. Hayes became her first friend in the community and encouraged her to join the club. She remained a member of the club even after moving away from the community in 1998.
“When you move, if you don’t remain connected, somehow, you just don’t see these people – [the club] is a way to stay connected with people you like to be around,” she said.
“I just don’t want to let go of it because it’s a good way to still see friends once in a while.”
Joyce Wright, who joined the club a few years after its inception, said the lady responsible for starting the club was named Enid Black, and she knew everybody in the region.
“It was a farming community and she knew about what age we all were and she was very insistent that we join,” Wright said. “She wanted to have a good club, and at the time, my husband and I weren’t too keen about being [called] seniors.
“But, she kept after us, she knew we were about the right age, and she built up a very good club.”
Wright added while she wasn’t the most involved member of the club, she appreciated the camaraderie the club provided to her and her husband.
“We certainly were a close-knit group, but very, very welcoming,” she said. “I think it was the fellowship mainly that I enjoyed.
“I think a seniors club is a wonderful thing, especially for the retired seniors, as it gives them a chance to get together. It’s just [meant] so much to the people.”
Similarly, Angie Hubick, who served as club president from 2000 to 2004 and vice-president after that, said the club has provided camaraderie and unique travel opportunities to her and other members.
“It’s a wonderful group of people, we had a lot of things going on and beautiful trips,” Hubick said.
Hubick added she also enjoyed champagne and breakfast in Banff and Lake Louise for Christmas with the club.
“When we went to Lake Louise, we had a performance by singers and the meal was absolutely marvelous,” she said. “After we finished, we dashed in the kitchen and asked the cook for the recipe – and we got it.
“The people [in the club] were just marvelous, mind you, so many are gone now and it’s really sad to see, but it’s a wonderful club.”
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