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ECRA offers Prince George seniors hot meals, recreation

The Elder Citizens’ Recreation Association (ECRA) is open to guests as pandemic restrictions have eased and people are looking to return to a safe and inclusive place.
ECRA Joann Smiley(1)
Joann Smiley is the centre manager for the Elder Citizens' Recreation Association that is in full swing for the summer.

The Elder Citizens’ Recreation Association (ECRA) is open to guests as pandemic restrictions have eased and people are looking to return to a safe and inclusive place.

While there is a full schedule of activities, face masks are encouraged but not mandatory and visitors to the Rec Centre will see staff and volunteers wearing their masks out of respect to make everyone more comfortable during their visit.

Made-from-scratch cinnamon buns created by chef Laurel Schwarz inspires Thursday morning visits and - iced or not - those buns are delicious, Joann Smiley, centre manager, said.

The recreation centre is open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

ECRA is a non-profit charitable organization for members, guests and drop-ins. They provide low-cost, nutritionally sound meals, fellowship, entertainment and recreational activities. The main focus is the well-being of the seniors in Prince George.

Lately, the frozen meal and soup options have been very popular with the to-go crowd and every Friday there is a special feast-like meal such as turkey and all the trimmings, or an Asian-influenced meal that includes teriyaki pork, vegetable stir fry, chow mein and rice.

“Those frozen meals are gaining in popularity,” Smiley said. “Just last week, we sold 85 frozen meals.”

Within the centre, there’s a library and comfortable seating.

“Many times, members will come in and get a coffee and select a book off the shelves – they’re only 25 cents each – and relax and read,” Smiley said. “We have regulars that come in every day for lunch and there’s a whole group that comes in for the freshly-made cinnamon buns.”

Activities at the rec centre that usually took a summer break will now be available for guests to enjoy throughout this warm-weather season.

“People don’t want any more hiatuses as they’ve already experienced such a long one when COVID hit,” Smiley said. “So we’re offering all our regular activities this summer.”

On the activities schedule, there are groups like the Forever Young Chorus, crafters and a ukulele group, then there’s floor curling and carpet bowling, yoga and tai chi, cribbage, canasta and whist.

ECRA has a full catering service available to the community that donates their profits to the operating costs of the centre as do all the fundraising efforts of other groups including Forever Young Chorus performances and garage sales held throughout the year.

The rec centre is also available for special-occasion rentals.

Membership at ECRA is only $25 per calendar year but people don’t have to commit during their first few visits as they are welcome to come and check out activities before joining the club that already has 700 members and everyone is welcome to enjoy the variety of meals offered.  

At its pre-COVID-19 peak, there were more than 1,000 members at ECRA and Smiley said she knows current numbers will continue to increase as people return to their regular activities with the confidence of knowing they are safe to do so.

For more information visit ECRA, 1692 Tenth Ave., or call 250-561-9381 or email eldercitizens@shaw.ca.