Joan Jackson: Soroptimist International


Stella, a senior member of the Soroptimist International of Victoria Westshore Club, asked that we create a series of dinner events for isolated seniors such as herself. In her name, we created Stella’s Supper, a volunteer-run service project helping to alleviate loneliness in vulnerable seniors. I think we enjoy it as much as they do!

Through Stella’s Supper we bring together 36 to 42 seniors at a time and seat them with others who quickly become friends. A few times a year, we serve them a meal and entertain them. Our guest list is currently around 80 people, so RSVPs are required. We mail out printed invitations and have a volunteer to answer their phone calls. Often the volunteer who answered the RSVP has enjoyed several conversations with the guest prior to the event.

It was difficult to keep this going through the pandemic. Once, we held it outdoors in a local park with rented tables for two, as required, checkerboard tablecloths and picnic box lunches. The guests quickly required the tables to be pushed together so they could mingle. We didn’t want to deny octogenarians the chance to see friends and make new connections.

After the world returned to some normalcy, we invited the seniors to come for a meal, friendships and entertainment in a rented hall. I was lucky enough to be on the registration table at that first event after the pandemic and was overcome with emotion as one sweet senior after another grasped my hand, teary eyed, to thank us for inviting them again. The loneliness was terrible for these vulnerable folks, living alone during the pandemic. Sadly, we lost several of our cherished guests during the pandemic.

We have resumed with two or three events a year, entirely run by volunteers. We’ve found that we can cook meals ourselves for the group and our hard-working volunteers. We have now expanded to deliver meals to those who cannot attend. We pick up guests who need a ride and deliver them safely home after the meal. We plan, cook, clean, serve, mingle, laugh and enjoy sweet exchanges with the many seniors we’ve gotten to know. We have live music, and sometimes they dance. Sometimes we dance too.

We strive to make their lives a little richer through the friendships we help make happen and we have a wonderful time while we do it.

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