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Probus: ‘Just because we’re retired doesn’t mean our minds are asleep’

July 16, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield – “It was the best thing I ever did,” Barb Snowden assured us. When Mrs. Snowden’s husband died, they had not long been members of Orangeville’s Probus Club.

“I had to decide to pull myself together to go to the Probus meetings – what else was I going to do – a widow sitting at home by myself?”

The companionship she found amongst her peers and the excursions they made to theatre in Stratford and so many others, brought her back to her life.

Briefly, Probus began with a company of retired people of various business backgrounds who found themselves naturally coming together for coffee and conversation.

At some point, one of them thought about actually forming a club, organising themselves in a way to support each other and arrange trips together, maybe get in touch with others, similarly minded groups.

So it happened in Melville, Saskatchewan, in the 1920’s and those individuals named the organization of their club Probus, taken as (Pro)fessional (Bus)iness people. In 1965, similarly, a group in the U.K., were a member of the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City attracted a group of professionals to create and join a Probus Club.

The popularity of the idea grew very rapidly with Rotary promoting and sponsoring their establishment around the world. Here in Canada, there are 170 clubs boasting over 2,000 members.

The purpose of the club is simply to socialise in the true meaning of the word by spending time together at regular meetings, to which a speaker has been invited, to mix and chat with each other over coffee, to join one another in a wide range of activities and trips, especially day trips.

This is not a service club and is entirely non-sectarian and non-political.

In a conversation with Doug Lackie, the current president of the Probus Club in Orangeville, he explained, “We’ve done our bit – most of us have been involved with service clubs for years.

“Now this is just for getting together, to talk and listen to a speaker. We have committees that organize events and trips. Anyone can go but no one has to.”

Even keeping the Probus clear of charities with the clear rule that no one campaigns for donations on behalf of any other organization or fund-raising effort, does not mean that there is no participation.

These ladies and gentlemen have spent years in the community and can now recommend others to assist with projects, “in the background,” as Mr. Lackie put it.

The feeling is that it would spoil the nature of Probus if there were appeals for donations for this cause and that: they have all “done their bit,” Mr. Lackie remarked.

It was clear Mr. Lackie likes the trips. “There is always a bus so we don’t have to drive and we find that’s fun. The trips are usually a meal out with theatre or something,” he commented.

He also likes the investment group, who each have a fictitious portfolio which they enjoy seeing how investments would play out.

Another member, Don Davoisey, told us with considerable enthusiasm about a walk-about trip in Orangeville, conducted by archivist Steve Brown from the Dufferin County Museum and Archives through different parts of the town, to talk about the history of many of the buildings and the families that constructed them.

On one tour, he told the group about the buildings on Greenwood Cemetery, dating back 150 years to the beginning of Orangeville.

“It was fascinating,” said Mr. Davoisey.

Each monthly meeting welcomes a speaker to the podium to talk about his/her life’s adventures or the organization with which he/she is involved, not as an appeal for support but as a subject that is interesting and informative.

While we were at the July meeting, representatives from the Ontario Christian Gleaners were scheduled to make a presentation. This is a charity that takes produce which can dehydrated to make dried soup ingredients to help feed people in need, worldwide.

Mr. Lackie told us that Dori Ebel was responsible for inviting the speakers. He has never been disappointed. “She’s the speaker-getter,” he declared. “They’ve been from good to ‘gee, am I ever glad I went to that meeting.’”

There is every reason why a retired business person might enjoy joining Probus for conversation and the various trips and meals together. To find out more about joining, you can call Doug Lackie at 519-941-7555.

         

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