© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY
Susan Loucks, left, Anne Smith, Mette Ching and more than 80 other members of the Women’s Probus Club of Charlottetown are marking their 10th year of the group, which meets monthly for fellowship and to hear guest speakers. They recently started a monthly diners’ club as well.
After years of working, retirement is the ultimate reward.
However, it can sometimes be a little isolating when one is used to being out there.
But there is an option for men and women who have retired or semi-retired from their profession or business who want to maintain a social network with others who have similar interests.
Probus clubs, which are sponsored by Rotary Clubs, meet monthly, except in the summer, for fellowship and to hear guest speakers.
“Sociability (is what members have in common),” says Anne Smith, who is the past charter president of the Women’s Probus Club of Charlottetown, which is marking its 10th anniversary this year.
There are about 4,000 Probus clubs worldwide with approximately 200 in Canada. Some are co-ed; others are gender specific, as are the two Probus clubs on P.E.I.
The Probus Women’s Club of Charlottetown started in 2003 after a member of the local men’s Probus club raised the idea of forming a women’s group with some retired professional women in the Charlottetown area.
“What people want from Probus is sociability — an educational and inspirational kind of group that talks about things and does things but is not a fundraiser,” says Smith.
“Most people at this stage in life have already done lots of that and they don’t want (to join) another organization that is going to be out there doing the same thing.”
The club started off with 58 charter members and
in no time had 100 members signed up and a waiting list.
And now at a time when many groups are struggling to retain members, this Probus club is holding its own with 88 women in the group.
“The sociability is great, but the guest speakers and programs have been phenomenal. It is the core of it all. And it’s not focused on age or aging things, it’s much broader than that,” Smith says.
Speakers have included Sen. Catherine Callbeck, who spoke about national politics, a Camp Gencheff representative, who shared information about the camp’s recreational program for individuals with special needs, and a Speaker of the House, who shared the duties of her position.
The group has also taken tours of places like the Charlottetown Court House and Holland College and organized group outings to destinations such as St. Mary’s Church in Indian River.
“I think part of it, too, is when you’re used to getting up in the morning and getting dressed up for your career, you kind of like to — not every day but every so often — do that,” says Susan Loucks, who is past-president of this Probus.
The meetings are held at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, after which members often slip into Mavors Restaurant for a lunch together.
“And we were invited to the lieutenant-governor’s house. My goodness, we’ve got pictures from that and everyone’s dressed to the nines. It was just wonderful,” says club president Mette Ching.
“Another thing we started last year was a diners’ club, so once a month (at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month), whoever wants to go, we pick various restaurants, we make the arrangements and everybody comes,” Loucks adds.
“By the roar of the crowd you can tell everyone is having a good time,” Ching says.
Many of the members are single, so Probus becomes a social focus as well.
“It’s a wonderful way to get to know people better,” she adds.
“There are quite of number of come-from-away people that are in Probus and there are some retirees who came to the Island to retire and they don’t have the family and social network. So this is another avenue for them to get to know some people.”
There is an annual Christmas party, a closing party and a summer event in addition to the monthly meetings.
“I think it’s the social contact and there’s no pressure to succeed and there’s no pressure to raise money, to advocate or to get up and make contacts,” Loucks says of the appeal of Probus clubs.
“It’s something just for yourself after you retire.”
AT A GLANCE
The word Probus is an abbreviation of the words professional and business. However, membership is not restricted to these two groups. Established clubs include members from all occupations, and the only requirement is each member is a retired or semi-retired individual.
The primary purpose of a Probus club is to provide meetings and fellowship for retired and semi-retired persons who value opportunities to meet with others of similar interest, enjoy hearing addresses by guest speakers on various subjects, and visiting places and organizations of specific appeal to members.
Probus is non-political and non-sectarian.
For more information about the Women’s Probus Club of Charlottetown,
contact Mette Ching at 393-4811.