The Salvation Army Ever Young Club
Nancy first walked through the doors of The Salvation Army Roxborough Corps Community Center about four year ago, at the invitation of a neighborhood friend to attend the senior citizen’s group, The Salvation Army Ever-Young Club, a weekly gathering for men and women age 55 and older. Now it feels like home, and Nancy is the one inviting others to attend.
Her first memory of The Salvation Army is when she was a little girl her mother would give her change to put into the iconic Salvation Army red kettles outside the downtown department stores. Today, Nancy is an active Ever-Young Club member and often arrives early to help however she can; collecting group dues, wrapping presents for people who are sick, or stuffing envelopes that need to be mailed. “I like being here,” she says. “I like the atmosphere and the people. I enjoy helping to do God’s work.”
The Salvation Army Ever-Young Club meets every Tuesday at The Salvation Army Roxborough Corps Community Center. Coffee and light refreshments preceed the meeting, which begins with a half hour of devotions followed by a different program each week. The variety of programs ranges from crafts, folk dancing performances, board games, flower arranging tips, and informational presentations on financial, health, and community resources. The last Tuesday of each month the group plays BINGO for small prizes, and is provided a delicious lunch afterward.
“We kid, we laugh, we have a good time together,” Nancy says of her participation with the group. Besides meeting seniors’ social needs, the Ever-Young Club also provides physical and spiritual activities. On Monday and Wednesday an average of 20 seniors participate in an aerobics class, and on Wednesday morning Major Bonnie Snyder, commanding officer for The Salvation Army, leads a group Bible study.
The Ever-Young Club is on the move, too. Once a month the group loads into The Salvation Army bus and goes on a day trip. Previous destinations include the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse, Shady Maple in Lancaster, Reading outlets, art galleries in Manayunk and Trader Joe’s in Ardmore. The Ever-Young Club also offers members overnight trips to The Salvation Army Ladore Retreat Center in the Poconos and a five day trip to Wildwood Crest every September.
Currently the Ever-Young Club has nearly 50 people enrolled. It is a diverse group made up predominately of women, but all are welcome and encouraged to join. Dues are $1 per week and an additional $10 per year. Besides helping to defray the cost of group activities, a percentage of that money goes to their Salvation Army Overseas Child Sponsorship, which the group sponsors together.
Freda Growling, senior activities director of The Salvation Army Ever-Young Club since 1994, and Marci Cooper, program assistant, have the pleasure of working with the seniors and organizing the group’s activities. Freda sends out a monthly newsletter that has the group’s schedule of events for the next four months, general announcements, members’ birthdays, and updates about any members that are ill. Freda and Marcy are also working to expand the programs that are available to the seniors at the community center. Within the coming months they plan on offering computer classes for any interested seniors.
Nancy enjoys the trips and activities she participates in through the Ever-Young Club, but it is the relationships that she has formed and the good work of The Salvation Army that keep her coming back. “I am very impressed with my dealings with The Salvation Army. I’m glad I’m here. The Majors are my friends, not just my pastors, but my friends.” About a year ago, Nancy joined the church congregation at The Salvation Army Roxborough Corps, and regularly attends Sunday school and church there every week. “I’m happy here. I feel like its home. There are people here who care about me, and I care about them. I feel Christian love all around me.”