Breaking bread with friends thanks to the Red Cross

Topics: Ontario, Our Impact on the Ground
October 01, 2013

A couple of years ago, Ray and Pat Johnson began attending the Congregate Dining program offered by the Red Cross in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The program is a diners club for older adults specifically designed to offer a group setting for socialization while providing a nutritious meal at the same time. The service is available on pre-arranged days at specific locations and is offered to individuals over the age of 60.

After several months of attending the program themselves, the couple told acquaintances, Jake and Joan Black from their church, about the Congregate Dining program. Although the two couples didn’t know each other well at the time, they started attending the lunches together and have since become the best of friends.

“Our Congregate Dining program offers a chance for individuals in the community to reconnect with friends and acquaintances, and in some instances they even develop new life-long relationships,” said Randy Moore who coordinates the program. “There have been many unique stories coming out of this program since it was established over four years ago.”

The strong bond formed between the Johnsons and the Blacks is one example. “We have been on a few trips to the States together and will be going to Paris and beyond at the end of August this year,” said Pat Johnson. “So, not only do we have a good time at the Red Cross lunches, and enjoy the meals, we are also enjoying our lives much more now due to the friends we have made because of our times together.”

Each of the luncheons creates an environment for positive social interaction. Those who attend the luncheons are often individuals with developing health issues or caregivers looking for a short respite. For some of the diners, the luncheons are the highlight of their month. For others, it is a good opportunity to have a nutritious meal. For couples like the Johnsons and the Blacks, Congregate Dining has proven to be an invaluable resource in keeping them connected to friends and the community.

The Congregate Dining program is one of the many community support services offered by the Canadian Red Cross. For information about initiatives like this in your community, click here.