Sunrise Men's Club: A night out with 'the boys'!When I arrived at Sunrise, I immediately fell in love with the residents who lived there. They were so full of experience and stories that I found myself staying long after work had ended just to listen and connect with this wonderful group of seniors.
They would talk about the past and, of course, their experiences at Sunrise. One male resident’s experience had a particular effect on me. He and a few other gentlemen had been sitting in one of the lounge areas watching sports when a larger group of ladies walked in and asked that the men change the channel. Being the gentlemen that they are, they obliged and went to another lounge to carry on with their evening.
My thoughts immediately turned to my own father. What would he appreciate in a seniors' living environment? What kinds of activities would he enjoy in the evening even if he required some assistance? I knew that he would want at least one evening every week to go out with 'the boys' and let loose like he did when he was younger.
First meeting of the Sunrise Men’s Club
The next day I announced the first meeting of the Sunrise Men’s Club, to be held that evening in the Bistro. Four men participated that first night where we drank beers, ate nachos and listened to great stories and old memories. From that night onward, Men's Club would run every Thursday night. We decided that we would rotate each week between hosting a pub night at Sunrise and going out on the town.
Within weeks, our Men’s Club had blossomed from four men to nine. A buzz started to build each week as Thursday drew near. Even curious friends and family would peek into my office to see what all the men would be up to for that evening! On Thursdays, residents would begin to gather hours before we were scheduled to meet.
Up to 15 members and growing!
It wasn’t until families started pouring in to thank me for introducing Men’s Club that I realized we had created something special. Sunrise is known for creating individualized experiences for all residents and we have found something that all the men here can connect with.
Since Men’s Club started in September 2011, we have had a tremendous increase of men choosing Sunrise for full time residence. One of the most important factors in their decision was the opportunity to participate in a social program exclusively for men, where they could develop friendships with like-minded people. Our Men’s Club is now up to 15 members and growing! Seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces when we return to Sunrise after a night out has been one of my most gratifying life experiences. As 96-year-old Bernard Murphy put it: “Mark’s crew, we’re alright.”
A diverse group
Our Sunrise of Oakville Men’s Club is a diverse group: some residents drive and some residents need assistance with eating or getting around. It warms my heart and puts tears in my eyes to see some of our independent residents pushing the wheelchairs of residents who need support as we all walk into a local restaurant during an outing.
We always walk in as one, and never leave a friend behind. These men aren’t just ‘old men’ who need walkers or some help cutting their food. Nor are they senior citizens who just passed their drivers exam and are celebrating. They are husbands, grandparents and fathers; they are still the same young men out having a good time as in years gone by.
Aging doesn’t mean losing your spirit or independence
Sunrise is a place where every team member gives heart and soul to ensure that aging doesn’t mean losing your spirit or independence. Some seniors here may not be able to do all of the things they used to, but they are still committed to living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment. Being able to be a part of that joy has changed my life forever.
I recently received an email from a community referral partner who ran into our Men’s Club on a Thursday evening. It read “I would like to take this opportunity to applaud your above and beyond the call of duty with regards to the Men's Club. I witnessed, you and your partner, treating each member like they were your own grandparents!” I thought for a moment and replied, “I treat them that way because to me they are my own grandparents.”