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Okanagan Men’s Shed sharing their talents

Call them men of purpose. Now they're looking for projects.

A group of retired and semi-retired Kelowna men has launched a pilot project called Okanagan Men's Shed -- based on a popular movement that began in Australia -- to put their talents to work on projects large and small, helping out non-profits and community groups with building and renovation projects, keeping their skills sharp and providing an opportunity to get together and share their talents.

Aided by a $22,100 federal New Horizons grant, and supported by Interior Health, the registered not-for-profit Okanagan Men's Shed has already tackled a few seasonal projects for seniors' groups. Now they're looking for more members and more projects to put themselves to work.

The group aims to keep busy.

"We don't want to sit around in meetings. When you have some project to work on, call me," says Art Post, Okanagan Men's Shed president.

"We're experts in making dust and noise," says member Wade Bottorff. "We have a lot to offer and we need to get the community involved."
Okanagan-men-shed

So far, the small group has done a few work-working projects, but wants to expand its expertise through wider membership. They have worked with the Hawthorn seniors' residence, United Way, Seniors’ Outreach Society, Kelowna Community Development Society and the Uptown Rutland Business Association and are seeking to assist more organizations.

They also meet to discuss common interests such as men's health issues, recently taking part in a webinar project between UBC and University of Manitoba researchers.

The group is looking for entrepreneurial go-getters with expertise in accounting, administration, and tradespeople with time on their hands and a willingness to help with worthwhile endeavours.

Among the Okanagan Men's Shed current member experts are a banker, health and safety expert, heating and air conditioning technician, electronics engineer, hospitality manager, computer expert, aeronautical engineer and commercial property manager.

"We need to stay active and mentally alert, work with the disadvantaged and give a helping hand where it's needed most," says Post, a retired Telus employee. "We are establishing protocols for projects, working with and for other non-profits and charitable organizations."

Members have built life-size stand-ups Christmas and Halloween figures and offered to work on Better Home Projects, doing small maintenance projects for seniors such as making residences safer by installing handrails, fixing sticky doors and repairing light switches.

"We work on small projects and don't want to take the place of tradesmen," says Post.

There are many organizations that already serve a variety of needs for seniors. Okanagan Men's Shed, in addition to doing community work, is also intended to provide support for members who can feel isolated in retirement.

"There's a gap. Men need help, but don't ask for it. Men don't talk about their problems," says Bottorff. A popular axiom is that women network and help each face to face -- with men's it's more shoulder to shoulder.

The Men's Shed movement in Australia, which has been going for some years, is paying off with members living longer and living better, says Post. Men's Shed gives men a safe and busy environment to find new opportunities in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

The group meets weekly for coffee and chat, shop activity and to plan new projects. Prospective members and interested community groups can contact Art Post at 250-717-1575, Wade Bottorff at 250-448-1830, or email okmshed@gmail.com

More information: www.mensshed.ca

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