Diana Penner, kitchen coordinator (right), assists a volunteer organizing the Happy Gang Centre’s kitchen. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace)

Diana Penner, kitchen coordinator (right), assists a volunteer organizing the Happy Gang Centre’s kitchen. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace)

Terrace Happy Gang Centre preps for reopening

Volunteeers welcome to assist

It’s been around 18 months since the Happy Gang Centre in Terrace hosted lively seniors events. Now, volunteers are in full preparation for the centre’s reopening.

On Nov. 19, president Greg Cowman, kitchen coordinator Diana Penner and other volunteers were hard at work cleaning and organizing the space.

“Everybody’s looking to get back in, playing cards again, downstairs we have floor curling, carpet bowling, the nicest pool table in Terrace … shuffleboard and darts,” Cowman said.

“It’d be nice to get back to normal, but everybody says there’s a new normal out there, so we’ll see what happens. I’m kind of excited, my whole tenure here as president has been involved with COVID.”

Currently, the Happy Gang Centre is open for drop-ins Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for people to socialize and have coffee, tea and goodies.

Work now has shifted to preparing the kitchen for reopening and ensuring COVID-19 protocols are in place to once again offer regular programming like music, lunch, games and other structured activities.

Cowman said that the centre has been able to weather the pandemic financially and has kept in touch with members, many of whom have had their lives impacted by COVID-19.

“For the seniors, it’s been probably a harder hit because they’re so used to coming down and socializing and then we’re their community so a lot of our members are kind of sitting at home.”

When the space finally opens, things will be a little different than before the pandemic, said Penner. Proof of vaccination is mandatory to enter, there will be reduced capacity and adequate spacing between tables. The centre is also still in need of more volunteers.

“People who are early retirees or just want something to do, [or] just want to volunteer, there’s always something we can find for people to do,” she said.

“The more people we have, the more opportunity we have to create opportunities for other things as well, so it’s pretty cool.”