Cooking up connections

Chelsea Powrie

A program aimed at helping isolated seniors make social connections has proved a delicious success at the two retirement homes where it operates. 

Cooking up Connections was started four years ago by the Seniors Wellness Society. It's partially funded by non-profits in Penticton like the Community Foundation and One Sky, as well as Cherry Park and Abbott Towers retirement homes donating their spaces.  

Program coordinator Nicole Peters explained that while the seniors don't actually do the cooking — that's done by a team of volunteers — they get to socialize, learn from a nutritionist about what they're making, enjoy a lunch and take home the recipe plus a full takeaway container for a leftover meal later. 

"The whole basis of this program was to have people that are isolated in their homes come out and socialize," Peters said. "And what brings people together? That would be food."

The weekly event starts at 11 a.m. and alternates locations between Cherry Park and Abbott Towers. Peters said they usually get around 15 attendees, though some weeks, like this one, they get over 20.

"We ask that people pre-register so that we can get the food and plan ahead," Peters said. Registration is through the Seniors Wellness Society, and the cost is $5 per session. 

Senior Madeline Solis Gwilliam has been coming to the sessions since last year. She was brought by a friend, and was instantly hooked.

"I still come! It's nice to see the same faces, new faces and to have a social meeting also at the same time," Gwilliam said. 

Peters said that anyone with a passion for cooking and volunteering is welcome to come join the team. Registration for that and for the program can be done by phoning the Seniors Wellness Society at 250-487-7455.

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