For the first time in the organization's history, the Pat Porter Active Living Centre (PPALC) has surpassed the 500 mark, the actual number of members is now 509 and growing every week.
Executive Director of the PPALC, Audrey Harder says,
“I honestly couldn't believe it when we got up that high, I was a little doubtful because our membership over the last years has been under 300 usually, they had started to build up but then the pandemic came along and they went down again. So to hit the 500’s and it's only May, I couldn't believe it.”
Harder notes the age of the members no longer lends itself to a 55+ organization, given that their youngest member is 7 and their oldest member is 97 years old.
“But you can be younger than that or older than that as well. Anybody can be a member here and it's a great opportunity to become part of our family.”
Harder says, the Pat Porter Active Living Centre is more like a health and wellness centre for individuals of all ages. They offer roller skating, dances, dance classes, indoor sports,
“You name it, if we don't have it, we probably could use it. We are really focused on just keeping everybody healthy. We're an active living centre. So active is key in what we are called. So we need to make sure people are active, whether that is in community, being connected or making friends, social experiences are so important.
Harder says that the centre is also about the mental and emotional wellness of all members and those who attend their events. From being able to work in their flower and vegetable gardens to their coffee time or pickleball in the gym, the facility is bursting at the seams.
“There there is some change happening in the near future. We're actually starting to meet with builders regarding adding on to the building. We've had conversations for about four or five months now, about how we're running out of space.”
Harder notes that having every inch of the building busy is both a blessing and has its challenges.
“But we love it, every minute of it, when we get stuck in a corner because there's no other room in the building. But we want this place to have what you (residents of Steinbach) need. So we're looking at the expansion being partially just for making more space in the main building and moving our offices to where we can all be around, together and not sitting on each other at our desks.”
But, says Harder they are also looking to add more meeting space for other non-profits.
“We currently have the Alzheimer's Society. We have Victoria Lifeline. We have the Steinbach Legion. We have Eastman Immigration and we have the West Centre. All are connected to our organization. They're all part of who we are and so we're looking at the expansion being for them as well. As well, we've talked to other organizations who may be interested in being part of what we do here, and because we're a nonprofit, we don't want to make money by having people rent. We want it to be affordable for other nonprofits to rent.”
Harder says the addition will mean the huts on the west side of the existing building will be removed and those organizations will then move into the new two-story addition.
Construction and completion date of the addition are still a ways off, but Harder says, it’s closer than it was at the beginning of the year.