By Mohammad Samra
The Palos Hills New Horizons Club for Seniors enjoying a catered meal at one of their bi-monthly meetings at the Palos Hills Community Center.
Rochelle LaVine, 78, sat comfortably with a group of her friends at one of the round tables covered in orange cloth as she turned her plastic knife so that the sharp piece faced upward.
She placed her fork in to what she called a “pork patty” and cut off a small, bite-sized piece before placing it in to her mouth. Each table buzzed with conversation, not a single one of the 62 people listed in attendance left out as another bi-monthly meeting of the Palos Hills New Horizons Club for Seniors neared its end.
“We bring the meeting to order, and then tonight we’re having a dinner that we paid for ahead of time and sometimes we play Bingo but with the dinner we might run out of time,” LaVine, an avid member of the Palos Hills community, said.
Each meeting is carefully thought out with Wednesday’s being no exception. The meeting began with a prayer for those in the club who needed them and was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and summary of the previous meeting. A brief rundown of current events within Palos Hills followed and the dinner allotted for the remainder of the time. Speakers such as Vice President of The Palos Hills New Horizons Club for Seniors Jerry Hoenig and Treasurer Joan Kaminski kept members up to date on everything ranging from the progress of planned events to the total balance of the club.
“We plan activities for the entire year; we have a board meeting. That decides which activities we’re going to participate in,” Joan Kaminski, 72, said. “My job specifically is to make sure that we manage our funds properly and that we don’t overspend,”
The Horizons have a variety of events they take part in to ensure that they aren’t always meeting within the beige walls of a spacious room inside of the Palos Hills Community Center.
“We go on two casino trips a year, we have like 54 to 56 seniors on those,” Jerry Hoenig, Vice President of the Horizons, said. “We have a Christmas party at Aviana’s and we have live entertainment and a nice meal.”
Members of The Horizon brought a certain energy with them to the meeting that gave off a very good vibe. Conversation slowly pushed away the silence as many of the attending members began to occupy seats. The sound of laughter and the sight of seniors smiling became common very quickly as it was very clear these people genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
“I like being with my own kind; we’re all senior citizens and it gets us out in the evening when we’d probably rather just stay home and watch television,” Grace Roth, 87, said. “This is a great community and we catch up on what’s going on in the area and is just fun, it’s a fun group.”
The Horizons displayed many examples of “social-ability” during Wednesday’s meeting. One member of the club had turned 96-years-old on Wednesday and everyone came together to wish her a happy birthday. Another member named Frank made his return to the club after losing his wife, and the Horizons welcomed him back with open arms.
In the short amount of time that the instructors had the floor, everything was organized and conducted in a professional manner that complimented both the members of the group as well as the organizers of the meeting.
The Horizons often give back to their community whether it’s through donations to schools in Palos Hills or holding their organized events exclusively in Palos Hills areas.
“We from the community, support the community,” Kaminski said. “If we do have a banquet we try and keep it within Palos Hills. Our food tonight is being catered from a local place called Valley Catering and like I said whatever we do with this club we try to stay within the community to support the community.”
Lavine, Roth and a few other seniors surrounding the table enjoyed a nice conversation as the meeting began winding down. One elderly couple at the table have been married for 63 years. Roth, a widow, looked the elderly woman in the eye, and softly said “Cherish every moment with him, because you never know when it’ll end.” This encounter exemplified what the Palos Hills New Horizons Club for Seniors is all about. Members didn’t put on a fake smile for the sake of the club.
Through a string of tiny interactions throughout the meeting, it was evident that who they are as people mirrored who they are when attending meetings or taking part of this club. Both organizers and members come together every first and third Wednesday of the month to contribute and participate in meetings or events of a group always looking to give back to the community. Regardless of what the turnout is for a given meeting or event, the central message of the Horizons remains the same: “We from the community, support the community,”.