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522 days ago
Elkanah House Gives Hope To Senior Citizens.

They are often forgotten, not because they are not there, but because through gained wisdom and experience they stay silent and contently in the background. They don’t need to make themselves heard because they have matured from that. They are just living it out, loving each day and not bothering anyone. They are the Senior Citizens.

Elkanah House recognised them and saw a need to celebrate this generation, and in May 2011 they launched an initiative which has grown to a fully functional seniors club that is now reaching out its own arms to the surrounding community. It is called the ENCORE Club, Senior Citizens@Elkanah and has an active membership of 208.

How it works, is that any person who views him or herself as a senior, can sign up to belong to the club. A small registration fee of R50 per year lends applicants full access to all Encore events taking place during each month. These events are run from the school and volunteers from the school’s parent and staff body serve on the planning, organising and project committee. They do this in their own spare time and with no reimbursement, purely in service to the members.  The school premises and buses are utilised for events and outings, and special rates are negotiated for events at and outside the school itself.

Elkanah House has a fully functional theatre at the High School campus, and this lends the school the opportunity to play host to many theatrical events, such as the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, The Brothers Streep, and also the schools own shows and concerts, to which Encore members are invited at special rates, in some cases free of charge.

Twice a month the club offers an outing to popular sites in Cape Town, accompanied by some of the volunteers. Members have been to  Kirstenbosch, Philadelphia, West Coast Flower conservation, Intaka Island, the Planetarium, the V&A Waterfront to name but a few. When the school bus is not available the group attending an outing meet at one of the MyCitiBus points, and they hop on together as a group. In some cases the school arrange a bus to transport them to and from their outing at a negotiated fee. A highlight for 2012 was the Outing to Houtbay on the red topless City Sightseeing bus – on arrangement the bus fetched 60 members from the school premises (this is not included in its normal route) and took them on an outing to Houtbay Harbour for lunch, after which they departed for home.

Once a month the members of Encore get together for Bingo Evenings, a very popular event in the life of the club members thanks to a delicious meal and sponsored prizes included in the event. A very well received fixture was added to the life of Encore, called “Dinner Club”, an evening where members can enjoy a meal at the school café, and for added value music pupils supply light entertainment.

A popular Encore monthly is “Movie Morning”, simply a screening of a popular movie in the school theatre, and weekly Kalooki (an addictive card game) offered in the foyer of the school theatre, has become a very important meeting to some of the more devoted Encore members.

On the last Saturday of the month, during the school’s “Schoolyard Market”,  members meet at the High School Campus for tea and eats, where they receive their monthly newsletter with upcoming events, new members can sign up and stories and ideas are exchanged. This is not the only day on which the Seniors and pupils get to mingle. Senior citizens have been asked to join pupils on social outreaches, and some have even offered their services to support the school’s recycling project, by helping out with clear recycling bag folding – an activity which needs much support and an integral part of the recycling project’s success.

Aside from the recycling initiative, Encore has also stretched out its hands to a few charities in which the school has already been involved, and members of the club bring donations to the school for a home for the underprivileged on a regular basis. Some of the “grannies” have taken up knitting for “Little Lambs” and every now and again a bag of beautiful blankets and beanies gets delivered to Elkanah House for distribution.

During October 2012 a group of members decided to do a little bit more and have been meeting at the school on a Wednesday morning to make sandwiches, which is donated to “Lunch Buddies”.

How complicated was it to get this project started? Not at all. A few willing convenors,  a venue to gather together, a bus or two, a monthly calendar and some administration was all it took. Thanks to generation of seniors  hungry for a little bit more to do, some selfless volunteers and a few structural arrangements it now runs itself and the senior citizens of Sunningdale in Table View and surrounds have found new meaning to their lives.

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