With only an hour to go before lunchtime, Montreal’s Victoria Leblanc was already busy setting tables and putting out the cutlery for Monday’s ‘Boomer’ café.
“It’s not complicated,” said Leblanc. “I started to help out 12 years ago when they first opened the ‘café’, and I have no plans to stop now.”
As kitchen workers from the NDG Community Food Center began to prepare the day’s lunch, NDGSCC (NDG Senior Citizens’ Council) project director Jeremy Varvaris described how the west end Boomer Café has become a “...catalyst” for people who are trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives.
“Like everything else, getting old is all about transition, and we’re all about helping out with that transition,” said Varvaris.
During an extensive interview, Varvaris told Montréal En Santé how problems begin to affect seniors almost immediately after they retire, and it only gets worse if they’re alone.
“Money becomes a big issue on a fixed income,” and for a variety of reasons, many seniors end up with little more than their pensions to see them through the month. While options might include anything from a daily walk in the park to a daily bottle of wine with Netflix for company, Varvaris went on to describe why the Boomer Café is “...more than just a free lunch.”
“This is all about community,” he said, “...and community is just about the only way we’re ever going to be able to do something about the senior isolation that ruins so many lives.”
Located in the Unitarian Church on Westminster Blvd. in Montreal West, it didn’t take long before a low happy hum began to fill the room as people began to take their places at the table. Over a plate full of baked chicken legs, autumn salad with some apple crisp for desert, Varvaris discussed assorted programs – including both yoga and drama classes focussed on health and other issues.
“It’s all about staying active, and working out methods to help people adapt to different aspects of what it means to grow old,” he said. “But in the end, it’s all about community because people have to know that they’re not alone.”