Keeping connected and busy through Abbotsford House

Marion Haunton peeps out from behind her “work in progress” created during her Abbotsford House art classes.  
Photo: Pat Goyeche

The calls help beat the boredom that’s come with being in a lockdown for so much of the winter

By Julie Ireton

At 100 years old, Joan Norvid, always looks forward to seeing her friends on Tuesdays at Abbotsford House’s luncheon club.

Before the pandemic, she would be picked up by a minibus and delivered to the seniors’ centre across from Lansdowne Park to see the friends she first met there in person. Since last spring, the club has been meeting instead via teleconference. While it’s not quite the same, Joan still enjoys catching up with her luncheon pals.

“They’re a nice bunch of people. I wouldn’t want to give it up,” said Joan, who still lives in her own home with the help of family living nearby.

Joan’s daughter, Nicole Norvid, visits and helps her mother daily. The luncheon club, even if it’s over the phone, gives Nicole, the caregiver, a bit of respite.

“They maintain a connection, it’s a tight knit group,” said Nicole. “It’s nice to know every Tuesday we have that call.”

Every week, at the end of the teleconference, Joan sings her friends a well-known tune before signing off.

“I always sing Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’,” said Joan.

For Barb Neilson, the calls help beat the boredom that’s come with being in a lockdown for so much of the winter.

“When I get with people, I talk and talk and talk,” said Neilson. “I love the conference call and enjoy the people. There are about 10 or 12 of us, including two men but they don’t have too much to say.”

This telephone connection is just one of the programs that Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre has adapted throughout the pandemic.

This winter, 27 programs were offered to the general membership and 13 sold out. Realizing that both inclement weather and the lockdown have made it difficult for seniors to exercise, the centre has offered several fitness classes via Zoom. Art, language and dance classes also seem to have struck a particular chord with members this winter.

Meditation, memoir writing, yoga, book club and several art classes are also offered online with new eight-week sessions opening up for March and April. Registration will be mid-February, with classes open to all members of Abbotsford House. It is the perfect time to join as the membership runs on a calendar year.

Marion Haunton usually travels the world every winter, but since that’s not an option this year, she’s trying out programs at Abbotsford for the first time; in fact, she has a packed schedule.

“I’m taking four art classes per week: watercolour, sketching, collage and mixed media, and one on colour,” said Haunton. “It’s very well organized and very flexible when it comes to the materials you use. I like to have something to do four days a week.”

Haunton, who is recovering from hip surgery earlier this winter, says the classes have kept her busy at a time when her choice of activities has been very limited. While she looks forward to getting back to her travels when the pandemic is over, Haunton says she’s so pleased with the selection of classes she’s found at the seniors’ centre.

“It’s a very nice recreational thing to do and Abbotsford does a wonderful job,” she said.

Abbotsford is your community support centre for adults 55+.  We are the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization that includes a 254-bed long-term care home.  Find out more about our services by telephoning us: Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and Abbotsford community programs on our website at

Julie Ireton is a journalist who contributes regularly to the Glebe Report on issues affecting Abbotsford.

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