Apr 03, 2018 News
By Feona Morrison
The Elderly Club 60-Plus Blazers celebrated its third anniversary on Easter Sunday during a church service held at the Brickdam Cathedral Life Centre in Georgetown. Present at the service were the majority of the club’s 109 members of whom 60 are able bodied.
Its total members also include senior citizens living in homes. They were engaged in worship and praise activities.
The elderly club is on a mission to provide innovative solutions to social issues for persons over 60 years of age. It is equipping its members with all that is necessary to lead independent and healthy lives in their homes and communities. After all, loneliness and social isolation affects everyone, but the elderly are more vulnerable after the loss of friends and family, reduced mobility and other factors.
The idea to form such a group started with a vision from Social Worker, Marlon Agrippa, whose mother lost her battle with diabetes three years ago. Agrippa, who has been in the profession for 10 years, was determined for his mother’s legacy to live on.
He explained that he once attended a church where the pastor had a vision of forming an elderly group. “Around the time, we were talking about it, my mother passed away. She (his mother) had been an educator for 49 years, and I said I’m not going to allow this investment to go to rest.”
Agrippa said that during his search for persons to join the group, he found six diabetic women and the group grew from then. “The group grew with persons from all religious backgrounds and women from different professions. During the group’s first year of existence, members focused on getting to know each other’s personalities and social issues. And it was interesting to find out that some of the members were either widowed or had been separated from their partners.”
“During the first year, we worked on getting to know the personalities and background of each member. That was when we found out that we had individuals who were retired army officers, retired head teachers, housewives, seamstresses, business women and knitters…”
During a recent interview with this publication, Agrippa outlined several activities the elderly club executed during last year. According to the founder, during the first quarter, members of the group spent time bonding with new members.
He said, “We looked for the familiarities between social issues among members and allowed bonding for healing.” He added that during the second quarter, the elderly club carried out a needs assessment at various senior citizens home.
These included the Palms, Uncle Eddie’s home, St. Thomas Men’s home, Ivory Hall Centre and the Archer’s Home. Several items such as night gowns, detergents and food stuff were donated to these homes, Agrippa disclosed.
And for the last quarter, Agrippa said that 60-Plus Blazers collaborated with the Ministry of Social Protection for month of the elderly activities some of which included workshops and concerts.
After observing that several members of the elderly club suffer from illness, Agrippa said, “For this year, I hope we can network with another organization to help provide medical supplies for them.” In the meantime, members of the elderly group, according to Agrippa, are excited to meet with First Lady Sandra Granger, with whom they are excited to share their talents and experiences.
Moreover, for 60-Plus Blazers religion is never a topic of discussion since the group comprises members from all religious and ethnic backgrounds. However, they always culminate meetings, which are held on the first Thursday of every month at the Brickdam Cathedral Life Centre, with prayers.
Agrippa expressed, “This is my passion and it has also contributed towards my personal development. I would just use this as a motivating factor to model young people who are searching to be of motivation to society. My mother always encouraged me to bloom wherever you are planted. And she cautioned me to continue to spend quality time with any person or thing you are desirous of developing a passion for.”
He added, “The female members are very passionate about doing prison ministry because it is their belief that the absenteeism of a father figure has led to many males being incarcerated.”
The group has very talented women. One of them plays the mouth organ and another writes poems, which are relevant to today’s issues. However, since forming the group, he revealed that he was met with multiple criticisms.
“I will not let anyone kill my dreams especially those who recognize that your talents and gifting from God are different from theirs and those who may have different potentials.”
“As a Sociologist, I recognized that by dealing with the elderly I look at myself as a drop of water landing on clean hands which I not only utilize for washing the face or cleansing but for being a blessing. If it means sitting at the side of a bed for someone in a home and holding their hands, 60-Plus Blazers is prepared to give that kind of support, recognizing that we are a social group reaching out to persons with social issues.”
According to the Sociologist, “I am a role model to by friends and family and I will continue to model positive behaviour.”
Members of the senior citizens’ group have already been engaged in a mental health workshop, after it was observed that persons were suffering from Alzheimer’s or living in a state of denial. As for the future of 60-Plus Blazers, Agrippa related that it will remain a non-governmental organization ready to assist the elderly.
“The members are very passionate about building an organization to help society,” he emphasized.
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