Whether screening children’s vision or helping people through poverty, volunteers make Thorold a compassionate, caring community

A variety of groups met at the Thorold Seniors Centre last weekend, hoping to recruit members, while showcasing their diverse services.

At Trinity United Church, parishioners host free community dinners with a rotating menu, each third Tuesday of the month.

And while the event has earned a great reputation, taste-wise, it’s about much more than the veal parmesan, said Valerie Sherrett, who volunteers to cook, along with Lucy Forbeck and other congregation members.

“It’s a night out, and a social event,” she told the Thorold News, especially for many lonely people who eat alone.

“Everybody’s welcome” to attend the dinners, she said, which start at “5:00 sharp.”

Trinity’s congregation also supports Prince of Wales School programs, RAFT, Cave Springs Camp, Start Me Up Niagara-Coldest Night of the Year, and cancer care, as well as the local air cadets squadron, and the Thorold Community Theatre.

The Pine Street church hall is also home to the Early ON child and family centre, which offers free, high-quality drop-in programs to support Niagara’s children, parents and caregivers.

The Seniors Centre is another community hub, now offering square dancing, line dancing, a number of different card games, cribbage, computers, and shuffleboard. Again, it’s all about camaraderie, and preventing social isolation.

Brenda Dolha of the Thorold Lions Club said improving people’s vision is one of its members’ main goals.

“We have boxes to collect used eyeglasses at Henderson’s Pharmacy, the Library, and the Seniors Centre,” she told the Thorold News, which are welcomed in third-world countries.

In addition, “The Lions are trained to do vision screening and dental screening.”

Working with the Niagara Regional Health Unit, “We go to all the elementary schools in Niagara Catholic and public boards, and we screen the vision of every Senior Kindergarten child,” she explained. Anyone who’s found to have a defect “gets referred to an optometrist.”

The Thorold Lions have also been raising funds with Hamilton clubs to create a teen zone for young patients in the McMaster cancer unit that’s “separate from the little kids,” so they have their own space to recover.

The busy Thorold club members have also been making cozy polar fleece blankets for the homeless, and will participate in the annual Puppy Promenade on Oct. 19 by handing out dog treats.

The Lions meet at 7 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the second and fourth Mondays of each month, except July and August.

“We’re a co-ed club,” said Dolha, “so you can join as a couple or as a family.”

For information, call Lion John Wilson at 905-227-8129, or email Lion Sue Beamer at rbwiris@vaxxine.com

More than 40 per cent of Community Care clients are children, and donations of food and clothing are always appreciated at the Albert St., Thorold branch, said manager Maxine Hutchings, with peanut butter in high demand.

High school students are welcome to fulfill community service hours during their Christmas and spring vacations, Hutchings told the Thorold News.

“We are looking for people to sort food and volunteer in the Thrift Shop. All proceeds from the Thrift Shop buy food,” she said, adding that “People in need get free clothing” through the Thrift Shop as well.

Offering quality gently used clothing and household items at very modest prices, the Thrift Shop is open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 and 1 p.m. to 3:30 Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Marlene Daniels, a community worker with the Niagara Region’s Seniors Community Programs, visits seniors in their homes in Thorold and St. Catharines; often alerted to seniors’ needs when they are discharged as patients from hospitals.

To those who qualify, the Region offers free social and exercise programs, light cleaning and help with laundry, as well as meals and transportation.

Outreach services, like the Adult Day program, Respite Companion program, and specialized mental health services, are designed to help older adults stay in their own homes as long as possible.

For more information, contact marlene.daniels@niagararegion.ca

The Catholic Women’s League of Holy Rosary Parish currently has about 150 members, but would welcome more. All Catholic women who are interested in developing a deeper spiritual life can contact Dori at 905-641-1812 or Linda at 905-227-1499.