Susan and Michael McCurdy are seniors on a mission.
Chatting over tea in their south end home, their passion is evident as they enthusiastically share their vision for their retirement project.
The retired educators and community volunteers have spent the last three years working on the specifics of the Halifax Senior's Happiness Project Inc. (www.halifaxseniorshappinessproject.com)
The project's primary goal is to provide intellectual stimulation, social and community involvement and fun for small groups of seniors.
"I am the epitome of a lifelong learner and I want to share with others. There are wonderful resources in our community," Susan said.
The couple devised the idea more than three years ago following Michael's trip to Vancouver to help his mother transition into a seniors home. He was amazed by the programming on offer.
Upon his return, he and Susan set to work trying to find a way to bring lonely seniors together to enjoy whatever pursuits made them happiest.
"It may be taking someone back to an old neighbourhood, a trip to Pier 21 or just to go sit by the ocean, things that are a little bit off the beaten track for programming and things that provide a particular personal joy," Susan explained.
"We don't want to herd large groups of seniors onto a bus, go somewhere and have them pile back on like a school trip. We want to initiate friendships with like minded seniors in small groups."
The couple have researched and attended conferences on aging and spoken with specialists, people and businesses working directly with seniors. Susan said most have enthusiastically welcomed their initiative and see it as complimenting existing services rather than competition.
They meet with potential clients free of charge, interview them to determine their interests, and place them in small groups with like minded seniors.
"Time and again what we hear is that what seniors really need in their lives to beat isolation, to bring happiness, is social interaction," Michael said.
The McCurdy's stress they aren't physical caregivers, referring to themselves instead as an ‘out and about' service.
Despite initial attempts to establish themselves as a non-profit entity, the pair were advised for legal reasons to incorporate. There is a fee for outings.
"We didn't want to sound like business people out to build a business and make a lot of money," Susan said. "That's not our intention."
Once they've built up a roster of clients, the McCurdy's hope to hire other professional young seniors to help them.
"We want to bring happiness and give peace of mind to families," Michael said.
The Halifax Senior's Happiness Project offers the following as a sampling of possibilities to help seniors take advantage of programs and activities in Halifax:
•Attending the symphony, theatre of cultural performances
•Joining or watching skaters at the Halifax Oval
•Taking in a matinee or dinner theatre
•Teaching English to a foreign student
•Visiting the ocean or taking trips to Peggy's Cove or Mahone Bay in groups of two to four
•Attending lectures at libraries, universities, SCANS and Elderlearners
•Walking in a park, attending yoga or chair yoga or fitness classes
•Card games, bridge, or learning new computer skills like email, Facebook or Skype to keep in touch with family and friends