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Wednesday September 18, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday September 18, 2013 MYT 1:51:29 PM
by sheela chandran
Having a good time: Willie Mueller looks forward to the gathering as it provides an opportunity to showcase his skills on the saxophone.
Retiree Janet Xavier-Schmid takes pride in organising social gatherings for senior citizens.
WHO says that senior citizens should hang up their dancing shoes after retirement? Thanks to Social Sundays – a monthly social gathering at PJ Club in Petaling Jaya, Selangor – retirees can look forward to an afternoon filled with good food, music and an opportunity to mingle with their peers.
The gatherings are organised as a part-time business by PJ-based Janet Xavier-Schmid, a former beautician who puts together the event to establish a sense of camaraderie among senior citizens.
“Once I had retired, I had too much time on my hands. Instead of idling away, I decided to start this part-time business to keep busy. Social Sundays has kept me on my toes for over seven years and there’s nothing more thrilling than organising these fun-filled get-togethers for retirees,” says the 60-something Xavier-Schmid.
During the gathering – held on the third Sunday of the month – guests can savour a scrumptious spread of buffet lunch and tea, be entertained by music from two live bands and stand a chance to walk home with prizes for the best dressed male and female.
To add more flavour to the fellowship – held between 1pm and 7pm – Xavier-Schmid even sets different themes each month. In August, it was Merdeka Glitter (in conjunction with the country’s independence day celebrations on Aug 31), while this month’s theme is Purple and Pink.
“Admission is RM35 per pax and the organising budget goes towards food, the band’s fees, rental, prizes and so forth. It is affordable and many retirees view it as a platform to meet their old kakis.
“Most of the senior citizens still have a zest for dancing and boy, they certainly keep the dance floor packed,” quips Xavier-Schmid, whose expertise in organising Social Sundays can be attributed to two years of experience in managing events as chairman of the Eurasian Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Laughter filled the air as about 150 guests packed the hall in the August gathering. Many were seen chatting happily with friends, while others seemed thrilled to strut their stuff on the dance floor. Most importantly, it was nice to see many retirees making good use of their time to socialise and keep active.
Just ask Subang Jaya-based retiree Gerry Rozario, 75, who never misses Social Sundays. The former headmaster of La Salle Sentul in Kuala Lumpur, says the gatherings provide him with an opportunity to meet up with old friends.
“Many retirees who attend Social Sundays have ended up as good friends. What really sets Social Sundays apart from others is that it creates a support base group for senior citizens and enables us to discuss issues affecting the elderly.
“Guests are also treated to different bands each month, which entertain us with a good selection of songs ranging from the swinging 1960s, retro to current chart toppers. It serves as a great outing for senior citizens,” opines the private tutor who has been attending the event for over three years.
Adding to the merriment is Swiss Willie Mueller, 72, a close friend of Xavier-Schmid and an accomplished saxophonist who turns the heat up a notch when he plays the acoustic instrument alongside musicians.
The polished entertainer – who has been living in Kuala Lumpur for five years with his Malaysian wife Woon Yuen Mei – looks forward to the gathering as it provides an opportunity to showcase his skills on the saxophone.
“I have been playing the saxophone for over 40 years. There’s nothing more rewarding than playing for a crowd who truly appreciates the music I play.
“Over the years, the musicians have become my close friends and it’s really nice being able to jam with different musicians each month,” says Mueller, who once ran a printing business in Luzern, Switzerland.
Woon, in her 60s, chips in: “Besides the opportunity to catch up with friends, the gatherings enable senior citizens to enrich their knowledge on issues ranging from health, news to travel. Retirees need to attend gatherings like these to keep themselves active and healthy.”
Loads of fun
Social Sundays started off as a small group that held its monthly gatherings in 2006. Within the first year, it expanded into its current guise, with about 150 to 200 people from all walks of life, with ages ranging from 40 to 70.
Xavier-Schmid also gets her friends to sponsor a few tables for underprivileged children from shelter homes or the elderly from old folks homes.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than to give back to the community. Through these deeds, I hope to instill a sense of community service in others,” said Xavier-Schmid.
Despite efforts to take the gesture of doing charity to the next level, Xavier-Schmid admits that organising the gatherings does come with its share of challenges.
Every month, she has to crack her head to come up with different buffet menus and select different bands suited to the crowd.
There is also the task of having to remind guests about the gatherings, and sourcing for gifts and sponsorship for underprivileged children.
“Although it can be time
consuming, I enjoy the adrenaline rush as it keeps me active. I am passionate about the
monthly gatherings and there’s nothing more rewarding than watching senior citizens
enjoying themselves on the dance floor. I hope to continue this community service for many more years to come as I love
to see people enjoy themselves and being happy,” says Xavier-Schmid.
Rozario applauds Xavier-Schmid’s efforts to invite underprivileged children and residents from old folks homes to the gatherings.
“Janet takes great efforts to organise the events. Besides catering to senior citizens, she also looks into the needs of the needy and uses proceeds earned from the gatherings to give back to the community,” he says.
The next Social Sunday gathering will held on Sept 22 at PJ Club in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Entrance fee is RM35. For more details, call 012-6624 155 (Janet Xavier-Schmid).
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Lifestyle, Social Gatherings, Senior Citizens
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