From left, Pelham Town Clerk Holly Willford, Councillor Bob Hildebrandt, Seniors Advisory Committee Chair Sharon Cook, Niagara Council on Aging member Susan Buckingham, Councillor Wayne Olson, Councillor John Wink. DON RICKERS

June has been proclaimed Seniors’ Month in Pelham, and on June 6, a ceremonial flag-raising took place at Fonthill’s Peace Park, followed by the unveiling of a “friendship bench,” funded by a special grant for the Seniors Active Living Centre.

“Pelham is a great place to live, and the Town continues to embrace opportunities to create an inclusive and welcoming community for all seniors,” said Councillor Bob Hildebrandt in a short address. “A visit to the Meridian Community Centre quickly demonstrates that Pelham seniors are very active. The programs, workshops, and facilities that are available year-round are definitely being taken advantage of by seniors.”

Sharon Cook, the Chair of Pelham’s Seniors Advisory Committee, noted that approximately 25 percent of the population is composed of seniors.

“We honour them for all that they have done, and for all that they continue to do in our town,” she said. “Without seniors involvement, we may not have our service clubs, or committees like Beautification and Active Transportation. Seniors are an integral part of this community. Their volunteerism and dedication to Pelham speaks volumes as to the great community we live in and enjoy.”

The friendship bench (euphemistically referred to as the “buddy bench”) is a concept that Cook saw online, and viewed it as an opportunity for people to connect.

“Welland has a similar program they call ‘chat benches.’ They’re not just for seniors—it could be anybody new to the community who sees the sign above the bench, describing its purpose.” Thirty painted benches are also on display on the Peace Park lawn, with a variety of motifs. Town staff and community volunteers were responsible for the artwork.

Seniors Month details are available online at https://www.ontario.ca/page/celebrating-seniors-ontario.