The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) has more than 300,000 members and the organization might just mean something different to each one of them, says local chairman Sharon Allen-Jubenville.
“Some people join due to the financial benefits of being a CARP member, some are passionate about advocacy on age-related issues and others are looking to meet like-minded individuals.”
Allen-Jubenville was part of a group that gathered Oct. 1 to mark national seniors’ day with a flag raising at the Civic Centre.
Local chapter 49 CARP director Steve Brent said the group has made “enormous contributions” to Canadian society by helping remove stigmas concerning aging.
“Aging is something everyone wants to achieve but when you do it, there are hurdles to overcome because people begin to make assumptions about what you can and can’t do.”
South Kent councillor Karen Herman, herself a CARP member, said the group plays an important role in the community in terms of volunteerism, experience and energy.
“These people know what they want and they know how to go about creating the kind of community which serves them,” she said.
Allen-Jubenville said CARP brings about a “new vision of aging” free from stereotypes.
“We have no age restrictions,” she said. “Adults of any age can join us because the kind of respect we foster for all kinds of people in our community isn’t really age-related.”
Brent said there are more than 800 members of CARP in Chatham-Kent including the all-volunteer board of directors.
“We operate on a very lean basis,” he said. “We are fully volunteer and any money collected in dues goes directly to fund our group and its causes.”
Allen-Jubenville said that now (according to Statistics Canada data) that there are more people in Canada over the age of 65 than there are under 14, the group’s power would continue to grow.
“We can use our united voice to help all Canadians,” she said. “We’re not political but that doesn’t mean we aren’t involved.”