“Café 65 – A Gathering Place for Seniors” is an outreach initiative of the Church of the Ascension, Don Mills. With the help of a diocesan Reach Grant, Café 65 was launched in January, with events held twice a month. The church is receiving excellent feedback: “wonderful hospitality,” “excellent lunch” and “enjoyed meeting people” are just some of the comments.
The format of the two-hour program is to serve a nutritious soup and sandwich and then provide some entertainment for the seniors in the community. In a Christian atmosphere, the program addresses many different needs: some enjoy the outing as a break from preparing lunch at home; some benefit from the social contact with others; some are curious about the topics of learning; some are introduced or re-introduced to the environment of the church itself; some benefit from having others listen to stories of their personal ups and downs; and many take home that warm feeling of just being served up some friendship for a couple of hours.
There is time for informal conversation so that guests can meet new friends and be new friends to one another. The lunch costs $7 and the fellowship is free. To date, entertainment has included musical performers and sing-alongs, a Tai Chi demonstration and presentations on cultural and historical topics. There was also a spring fair, which highlighted products and services geared to improving the quality of life for seniors. In addition, printed materials from various businesses and organizations, along with updates of our church activities, are always available.
Attendance is more than 50, with 71 on one occasion and many repeat attendees. The cafe aims to attract 80 to 100 people regularly, as word spreads. Flyers, distributed widely in the parish, outline the program and relay the church mission, as well as contact information. “Not only is Café 65 a popular program for guests, but our volunteers have developed quite a camaraderie in setting up the church hall, prepping and serving lunch and doing the associated activities that go along with putting on such events,” says Evelyn Hullah. “We feel we are definitely meeting a need of the considerable number of seniors in our community.”