Former Williams Lake resident Muriel Dodge hopes her enthusiasm will rub off.
She’s a B.C. director for PROBUS — clubs for retired professional and business persons, former executives and others — and has been involved with a group in Salmon Arm for a decade.
“I’ve met so many interesting people since I joined. Our paths would never have crossed,” Dodge said.
The club was first started in England in the 1960s by some Rotarians who used to take the train into London for meetings and were reaching an age where they didn’t want to do Rotary anymore.
“They decided they should form a social club where they could get together and talk because they all really liked each other,” Dodge explained.
From England it grew to Australia and New Zealand.
“They say down there there’s one every twenty feet because it’s so popular with retired people.”
The first Canadian club was formed in 1987 in Brampton, Ont. Today there are more than 200 clubs in Canada, ranging from 20 to 200 members.
Most of the clubs are combined male and female, but there are a few that are exclusively male or female.
Dodge said PROBUS provides a way for retired people to get together and to meet new retirees.
Meetings are held monthly, normally in the morning, and include a meeting and a guest speaker.
At a PROBUS meeting in Kamloops, a Thompson Rivers University nursing instructor spoke at one of the meetings about a Pig It Forward program in the South Africa.
“She takes nursing students with her and one time they were asking this woman what she needed and she told them all she needed was a pig. She said, ‘you give me a pig and I won’t have to worry about anything’.”
In Salmon Arm they’ve had speakers from Doctors Without Borders, a dentist who climbed Mount Everest and a woman who has memorabilia from the RMS Empress that sank in the St. Lawrence River in 1914.
One speaker talked about improving your memory. Another speaker related his family’s experience sailing around the world.
Another person talked about the mountain pine beetle.
“Those are the kinds of people we get,” Dodge said. “They’ll come and talk to us and we don’t owe them anything. We don’t have to buy their services because they really want to get their message out whatever their message happens to be.”
Three clubs exist in Kelowna, one in Vernon, three in Salmon Arm and two in Kamloops.
“Kamloops had over 100 people come out to their first meeting and had just under 100 people as their charter members so they capped it at 100 and decided to start another one.”
The second one has 100 members, and both Kamloops clubs have waiting lists.
Once it catches on, people really like it.
Often people will tell Dodge they already belong to different clubs, but she replies that there isn’t any fundraising or volunteer hours expected.
Instead, she tells them it’s about socializing and learning.
“This caters to people who want to think. It’s not for everybody, but once it gets going it’s amazing.”
And people are not required to attend a minimum of meetings either, she added.