We turned 60 years young in 2022!
Life After Fifty (LAF) is a multi-service organization and registered charity which offers social, recreational, educational, and volunteer opportunities for adults 50 years and older.
As of July 2023, we are operating as Life After Fifty (LAF), but remain incorporated as Centres for Seniors Windsor. Life After Fifty currently has over 800+ members, and over 150+ volunteers.
We have 2 locations - on McEwan Avenue (West Side Centre) and on the first floor within the WFCU Centre on McHugh Street (East Side Centre). In keeping with our wellness and health promotion policies, both facilities are accessible, smoke-free and fragrance free.
LAF is recognized as a fiscally responsible, responsive, caring and dynamic service provider. The success of the agency would not have been possible without the on-going support of volunteers and members.
Today, the agency is funded by the, the City of Windsor, the Ministry of Health - Long Term Care, through our own fund raising efforts, membership dues and service fees. We have been supported along the way by service clubs, government grants, community foundations and business sponsorships.
As we move forward, the agency is looking at new ways to meet the needs of both our current members and the up-and-coming boomer generation.
A Brief History of the Organization
Like all not-for-profit organizations, we have faced exciting and challenging times and they continue today. We are proud of our 60-year-plus record of service to adults in the Windsor area.
Our beginnings - and the official opening of the Greater Windsor Senior Citizens' Centres Association on February 24, 1962 - was the direct result of the community's concern for the welfare of senior citizens. Financial contributions from industries, businesses and unions provided the needed funding to open the first Centre. The community was asked to donate through a very successful Porchlight Drive Campaign initiated by local service clubs.
In 1963, the agency became a member agency of the United Way. In 1966, we became the first seniors organization in the province to receive provincial funding through the Elderly Persons Centres Act.
As a community focal point, the agency has taken the lead in provision of services to seniors. The first "Meals on Wheels" program was initiated at the original Elliott Street Senior Centre. That service is now offered through the Victorian Order of Nurses.
In 1973, we opened our second facility in East Windsor - the Riverside Associate Centre. In the same year, we joined other agencies across the province to form a provincial organization - and we have now been a proud member of the OACAO (Older Adult Centres' Association of Ontario) for more than 50 years.
In 1983, the agency purchased the former Christian Missionary Alliance Church at 706 Goyeau Street. The site was closed for renovations and construction for two months before re-opening on February 13, 1984. Renovations continued for another year. Financial assistance was received from numerous foundations, service clubs, all levels of government, members and friends.
In 1988, the Riverside Associate Centre became the Edward St Centre when it moved to the Edward Street Neighbourhood and Senior Centre, in partnership with the City of Windsor’s Parks and Recreation Department. In subsequent years extensive renovations ensure accessibility was completed at both facilities.
In the same year, our Members' Council - elected representation of the membership - was constituted to recommend, advise and liaise with members, staff, and Board of Directors. (The members’ council was later disbanded in 2012 under a new, Board of Directors structure.)
As the agency grew throughout the 1980s, so did our Community Support Programs - Footcare, Transportation (ESCORT), Friendly Visiting and Telephone Assurance. In 1990, with funding assistance from the Ministry of Community Social Services, we purchased an agency van. Though our transportation program has now ended, we are still going strong with our other Community Support Programs.
A mandatory membership policy requested by the membership was endorsed by the Members' Council, and subsequently approved by the Board of Directors in 1991.
In response to requests, the Olde Sandwich Towne Senior Centre opened one day a week in West Windsor in January 1993. In September of that year, with the help of United Way Venture Grant funding, we expanded to two days a week. (That site later closed in 2002.)
In 1994, the Centres Association changed its name to Centres for Seniors Windsor.
In 1997, the Board began planning for the future of the Goyeau St. Centre, recognizing the need for more flexible programming space. After much discussion, planning, and development of a strategic plan, we were ready when the opportunity arose to relocate to our current location, a former elementary school at 635 McEwan Ave in the west side of Windsor. Renovation of the school began in November 2003, and we moved in March 2004.
When the Edward Street city facility closed in 2008, our re-named East Side Centre re-located to the second floor within the WFCU Centre on McHugh St. We utilize its recreational facilities through the City of Windsor’s Parks and Recreation Department. In April 2013 we moved to the 1st floor by the Community Centre entrance. Our expanded space now includes our own exercise/ meeting area, a full kitchen and a small café for our members with frozen meal options.
After almost a year of planning, the agency’s new business name – Life After Fifty – was revealed to members and the community alike in October 2013. The re-branding event included a 2-day open house, the raising of a new flag and the presentation of promotional materials featuring the new logo and agency colours. The new look and feel is now part of our Social Media presence and at both locations via the new orange, blue (and yellow) colour schemes.
In an effort to expand and be accessible to more older adults in the Windsor/ Essex area, in 2015 Life After Fifty began to offer select programs in the Town of Lakeshore at the Atlas Tube Centre. Life After Fifty members could join in these programs as a part of their LAF membership. (This partnership continued until 2016.)
In 2016, the LAF Café was formalized as a social enterprise revenue stream for Life After Fifty and we began offering frozen meal to go options. In 2017, the LAF Café partnered with the Town of LaSalle and we began serving soup and coffee in the LaSalle Town Hall/ Civic Complex. Although we no longer sell soup and coffee through the town hall, Life After Fifty has maintained our partnership with the Town of LaSalle by serving up strawberries and ice cream every year at the LaSalle Strawberry Fest.
Life After Fifty was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For the safety of our members, Life After Fifty was forced to close our doors to the public and began offering virtual programs via phone and online that seniors could access from the safety and comfort of their homes.
Today, in July 2023, we are happy to be finding our “new normal” after the pandemic, with LAF membership numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels and in-person programs resuming.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that people really came to understand the importance of community and the impact of isolation. People are ready to take their wellness in their hands and looking for opportunities to be fit, be social and be well. Therefore, we are happy to say that LAF is regularly growing, welcoming new members, introducing new programs and we will even be expanding our operating hours this Fall.
Come be a part of it!