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Photo of president Sue Hunter

President's Message

Welcome Back!

The Brockville 50+ Activity Centre plays such an important role in this community and it was never more noticeable than when we could not finish our winter semester due to Covid-19.  As I encountered members around town I heard the same thing over and over again.  How much everyone missed their activities and friends!

So it was especially rewarding to see this semester get off the ground and to see familiar faces again at the first week of activities.  I hope you are all enjoying these classes.

I would also like to say that it is imperative that we take care of and respect each other.  We want to keep each other healthy and safe; so we ask that everyone abide by the rules set out by the health unit, on which we have based our protocols.  Although we have new ways of doing things hopefully we can all still have fun together.  That is what 50+ is all about.

There have been questions about our relationship with Wall Street United Church, since we have moved into the Perth Street Site.  The Board consider this a temporary arrangement until the church reopens to outside organizations.  Hopefully, that will be the case for the Winter Semester.  We have a long standing relationship with Wall Street United and trust that it will continue for many years to come.

One final thing to mention here is that I am honoured to serve this community as their president.  I look forward to leading this centre through these trying times and hopefully make it a better place for all of us to enjoy.  It has been a challenging time to enter into this responsibility, but I am doing it with my eyes and ears open.  If you have any suggestions or ideas please send emails or call the number at the bottom of the newsletter and they will be forwarded to me.  In the meantime I plan to visit as many classes as possible, so that you can all get to know me better and vice versa.

Once again thank you to all who gave of their time to help us to get this semester started.  Enjoy your activities and stay safe.

Carmen Grosse

Special Message from the Past President

The past two years have gone by very quickly. I feel blessed to have been a part of the Brockville 50+ Activity Centre Board of Directors and will continue on the board as Past President for the next two year term.

At this time, I would like to congratulate Carmen Grosse. Carmen has been very involved and led activities in the past and present. She has assisted Marian in the office and filled in wherever needed. Carmen recently joined the board and has stepped up and agreed to fulfill the President role on the board. Rest assured, Brockville 50+ Activity Centre is in good hands! Carmen joins the executive with a wealth of experience to help move the centre to new heights. We are very fortunate to have you at the helm!

As well, congratulations to Mike Libbos, elected in to the Activity Director position. Mike has an abundance of energy and ideas to keep and grow activities well into the future of the organization. In his first semester as Activities Director, he has risen above all of the obstacles that we face in the current pandemic situation. Amazing! Thank you from all of the board and participants!

Welcome to John Pyl!  John has served years on the foundation board, and participated in many activities over the years, and continues to do so. John was elected to the Brockville 50+ Activity Centre board as Treasurer in August.

I would like to thank Bill Carlyle for his many years as Activities Director. Bill has worked diligently with leaders and venues and the board, to make each semester the best that it could be. This is definitely a very finely tuned juggling act that requires incredible communication skills, and he made it look easy! Thank you Bill. Your contribution is appreciated beyond words. We are all so pleased that you will continue on the board over the next year.

A huge thank you to John Dickie, who has been the Treasurer for the past 2 years. You joined the team and led us all through change of financial reporting and much more! We are all very happy that you will continue as a Director at large.

Another change with the executive this year is Jo Ann
Brinkworth. Jo Ann has been the Secretary on the board for the past 3 years. Many of you know Jo Ann from leading the Wednesday Pickleball.  Jo Ann has been a very positive team leader and puts her heart and soul
into every endeavour she commits to. I know many of you will continue to see Jo Ann in activities.  She will be missed on the board and we thank her for her leadership, expertise and willingness to jump in whenever and wherever needed.

Laura Papaioannou, not currently not on the board, (but she has been!) has volunteered in the office for many years. Laura has recently retired from this position. Although much of her hard work has been behind the scenes, she has has been an integral part of Brockville 50+ Activity Centre’s success. Thank you so much Laura, for your many contributions. You will be sorely missed!

Sue Hunter

Past President

50+ Activity Centre News


John Bonser (March 1, 1940 - September 10, 2020)

John was a respected, long term member of the board of directors.  He also taught the Conversational French class and was an avid member of several classes during his involvement with the Brockville 50+ Activity Centre. 

John was a strong advocate for the decision to change the organization’s name from Shepherd’s Welcome Centre in 2016-2017. He helped the board make some wise and diplomatic choices and to convince the participants the value of the name change.  The board was sorry when he had to step down as a director a year ago.

John taught Conversational French for several semesters and also expanded the popular class into two due to popular demand.  He was instrumental in finding the additional leader as well.

John also enjoyed participating in the classes as well.  This allowed him to keep his finger on the pulse of the Centre and contribute greatly at all levels of this organization.

He was a jovial and enjoyable friend to all he encountered and will be missed dearly.



Laura Papaioannou has been with Brockville 50+ (formerly Shepherd’s Welcome Centre) for almost eleven years.  She has now decided to use her many talents, full time for another community enterprise that is really stepping up to help the less fortunate in our community - The Brockville and Area Food Bank.  She has supported this organization for many years in a part-time effort but has now decided that the need is strongest here, especially as so many in our community have been hit hard financially by Covid-19.

The help she provided to keep our office running smoothly was endless.  Not only did she open the office with Marian 2 days a week.  She also covered for any emergencies.  Laura knew intuitively what needed to be done and she just stepped up and did it. 

Registration - check, Christmas Dinner - check, Collecting and distributing attendance sheets - check,  delivering hard copies of newsletter to members in her apartment - check.  I'm sure the list went on, but Laura certainly didn't seek thanks or recognition.

Laura's attitude was helpful and kind in all  circumstances; always ready to help with a smile and friendly words.  Laura is patient and kind, hard working and meticulous.  She has assisted both Brockville 50+ and Wall Street United Church for a long time.
We wish her well.  She will certainly be missed by Marian and the other volunteers of the centre. 

It takes a Village

This is the story of how the Fall Semester got off the ground.  Covid-19 came to town - UNINVITED and ended our Winter 2019 semester abruptly.  By the time we had our end of semester board meeting in May via Zoom, the faces and thoughts were glum.  It was looking pretty dismal for any kind of activity come the fall.  Ah!  But summer makes all the difference.  Hot summer days along the river with a few glasses of sangria and all of a sudden things aren't looking so bad.  By August Mike Libbos, the new Activities Director, had ideas.  First the leaders were approached.  Would they be interested?  Overwhelmingly YES!  How to register?  We have the technology - phone and email.  BUT Wall Street United Church would still be out of bounds.  There must be a venue somewhere in Brockville...the hunt was on.  By the 3rd week of August we were touring the Youth Arena, Brockville Shopping Centre and empty store locations on King Street and 108 Perth Street.  Needless to say, the Perth Street site was the most suitable.  Mike was on the job to get a lease signed, sealed and delivered - not an easy task.  The landlord was on vacation and is located in Kingston.

With limited space new schedules needed to be put in place (who knew how much space we took up at Wall Street every day?).  Mike Libbos, did a great job of scheduling over 30 classes / 3 venues (including the Strowger Courts for Pickleball).

Next came health and safety.  Gael Bullard offered her services as the lead interface with the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Health Unit.  Together with Carmen, they outlined a proposal for The Salvation Army, so they would let us back and give us more time and space.  Then the proposal needed to be put into place for the Perth Street Site.  The virus situation is evolving and so are our Health and Safety Rules.  As we move forward we are continually evaluating the situation and trying to keep everyone safe.

The time-line for events was then put in motion.  Registration by phone on Sept. 15 and classes to begin on Sept. 21.  We now had less than 3 weeks to D-Day.  Many of the larger class leaders started emailing and calling their regular students to see if they wanted to sign up.  This freed up phone time for new members to call on registration day.

Finally we had access to Perth Street and boy did it need some work.  The entire building needed to be cleaned including the outside window.  A family was approached to take on the job and then to clean the site every evening as well.  Isn't it wonderful that we are also able to help out a family during this time?  Our village is growing!

Next came jobs for many hands.  Like raising a child, this effort also took a village.  We have a community, that when called upon rose to the need.  Many leaders and board members volunteered to "Get it Done".   These people deserve special mention for their "beyond the call of duty" efforts:

Tony Dunbar and Xoi Hin were instrumental is keeping the membership informed by updating the website continuously.  With this very fluid situation with government protocols and changing statuses I especially appreciated their quick response and technical know-how.

Gael Bullard as our liaison with the Health Unit to ensure our safe return.  She also donated all the sanitation kits for all the sites.  And just to go that one step further, she also sewed masks to include in the kits; in case any member shows up without one.
Debby Greffe and Marian Rafferty papered the windows and added our name and address so that our new location at Perth Street would be easily seen.
Bill McNelly and Lisa St. Pierre 
also gave us a hand with driving to Kingston to pick up chairs, painting parking  lot lines and signage .  Yes, Leaders now have designated parking!
 Mike Libbos, with help from Bob Phillips did a lot of the maintenance duties.  How many guys does it take to screw in a few fluorescent lights and ballasts - two.  Bob also cleaned up the back emergency exit area of weeds and is building a step so a parachute isn't required to leave through that door.  Mike also had the least favourite job of fixing the leaky toilet.
We also had a crew helping Mike to move chairs and tables from WSUC to Perth Street - they were Mark Bailey, Wayne Bullard, Ian Coombe, Gord Eamer, Jamey McTavish and again Bill McNelly.  And a big thank you to Wall Street United Church for lending us this  furniture.

On behalf of the board and all the participants, we would like to thank you all for your dedication.  If you see any of these people when you are around, please take a moment to thank them for their hard work in getting this new location operational.

As I write this, we are closing in on the first week.  Was it perfect?  No.  Are we on the right track?  I think so.  The purpose of all this is to enact our mandate to the best of our ability which is to enhance the lives of Brockville and area residents 50 years old and over, by providing, in a friendly and welcoming environment, affordable programs and activities that will keep them mentally and physically active.

Carmen Grosse



5 Wall St., Brockville, ON
K6V 4R8 Canada



Phone: 613-345-2412

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