Gloria-Jean Seymour holds a bejewelled pink jar that she brings to every one of her seniors’ events and says money goes into it every time someone swears, mentions President Donald Trump or talks about an illness.
Seymour started a lonely senior singles club called Dine and Chat in February after she found herself in need of companions.
The money is collected after each breakfast or lunch the group holds and is given as a tip to the waitress, she said.
The swear jar came as an idea to keep everyone positive.
“We have about (so many years of experience) amongst all of us and we all have a story and if we all start talking about negativity, we’re just going to get down, aren’t we?” she asked.
She started the group by publishing a small ad in the Capital News because she was feeling lonely around Valentine’s Day.
“I kind of get a little blue at that time, being single for 11 years and having lost my mom, my dad, my brother. I felt that there was such a void and a reason for that time because before that I had retired after 50 years of hairdressing,” she said.
At the time, around 13 people showed up. That number has since grown to more than 200 and includes three volunteers along with Seymour.
“When they came for my first event at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and 13 people showed up, they were absolute strangers, I never met them in my life and I just had a couple tears,” she said.
“They were all very calm and withdrawn and you could see they didn’t know if they wanted to be there or not because they just had lost their spouses.
As time went on they’ve all become chatty Cathys. They made friends amongst each other, they do things together,” she said.
“I see so much love. When you come to Denny’s, you can feel the love in the air. It’s beautiful to see.”
The Dine and Chat is for members over 55. Every Tuesday, the group meets at the local Denny’s for breakfast or lunch and every second week for a picnic, dance or other activity. Membership to the group is free.
At each event, at the end of the event I get them to write down what their experience is,” she said. The book has been with her since the beginning and carries messages from the seniors saying how good it was to meet everyone.
When she was sick for a month, she received an overwhelming show of love and support from the group.
She said she would love for these types of events to be taken on by the City of Kelowna as there’s a need for senior events in the community.
“That’s the fun part of it all and I love the marketing end of it,” she said. “I would be interested in doing fundraising for sure.”
Seymour is considering expanding the group to include married seniors as well.
To find out more about the Dine and Chat, call Seymour at 250-763-6495.