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Celebration marks Pelly Happy Hearts building’s 40th anniversary

The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the construction of the new Happy Hearts building in 1982 began with the opening ceremony, and continued with a gala Saturday night supper served to over 100 people.
Pelly Adrian cakes
Adrian Makohoniuk was photographed with anniversary cakes that were donated by Miller Agencies of Pelly.

PELLY — The Pelly Happy Hearts Drop-In Centre is “our home away from home, a place to get together and socialize,” said Adrian Makohoniuk, board president, during the opening ceremony held to celebrate the Centre’s 40th anniversary.

“Our volunteers are our biggest thing,” Makohoniuk said on Aug. 13, adding that to have a successful centre it “takes a lot of work and patience.

“Our lifeblood is our volunteers,” he said, explaining that without volunteers the many functions at the Centre, such as bingos and lunches, would not be possible.

Makohoniuk called for a minute’s silence in memory of deceased members and for the victims of the war in Ukraine.

The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the construction of the new Happy Hearts building in 1982 began with the opening ceremony, and continued with a gala Saturday night supper served to over 100 people. The celebration continued Sunday with a pancake breakfast, an inter-denominational church service, a lunch and the serving of a large anniversary cakes. Local musicians, including Thomas Hazlett, a past GX94 Star Search winner, entertained the crowd from the outdoor gazebo.

“The board of the Happy Hearts club is proud of all the work done to update and modernize the building over the past few years,” said a release provided by Allan Reine, an organizer of the event. “Many thanks go to Affinity Credit Union, the New Horizons Program of the Federal Government and to other funding organizations that have helped us continue our tradition of serving the community.”

“This is our opportunity to give back to the community which has sustained us over the past 40 years,” said Makohoniuk, who then introduced Cathay Wagantall, Yorkton-Melville MP, who thanked the board and members for the invitation to help celebrate the anniversary of the recreation centre.

“I enjoyed going through the newspaper articles, photos and background on the amazing history of your investment in the quality of life of your community and its senior citizens,” Wagantall said. “The thoughtful and intentional effort made to provide learning opportunities and facilities that say you have had a vision for this generation of seniors who call Pelly home and that vision is just as strong for future generations.

“It’s wonderful to see tax dollars through the New Horizons for Seniors programs being used for such worthwhile projects as the building of your new facility in 1982, less than a decade after meeting as a brand new club in the Legion Hall in 1973, and then outgrowing your first location.

“Seeing the need to provide a computer education project that enables seniors to move forward with health, banking, government benefits, distance learning and other services that the Internet provides was a truly innovative project and now your new HVAC system will ensure that the facility continues to be well cared for and well used.

“Something very special about rural Canada is that we understand where those dollars truly come from,” Wagantall said. “Making those dollars go as far as possible by rolling up our sleeves and volunteering in any way we can that contributes to doing more with less and coming out the other end with something we can be truly proud of, speaks to the sense of stewardship and desire to contribute and sacrifice that is in our DNA.

“I commend you for the efforts you all give to make Pelly a vibrant community for all ages,” she said. “We all know that rural life has so much to offer and quite frankly our larger communities depend on the wealth that is generated by the resources of our land.

“I’m honoured to be your Member of Parliament and am very conscious of the ongoing need to champion how amazing our province, our communities and our citizens are in providing food security and energy resources while always finding new ways to be more environmentally sustainable.

“On behalf of the Federal Government of Canada and her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, congratulations on 40 very productive and rewarding years of accomplishments,” she said. “You have much to celebrate today as you continue to look to the future.”

Makohoniuk mentioned the air conditioning system and other renovations that were done with federal funds during the COVID-19 period.

“Bake sales, bingos, dances, even a funeral, you name it, we’ve had it here,” he said. “We’re very proud to be members of Happy Hearts.”

“Happy Hearts is the heart of our community,” said Conrad Vogel. “On behalf of the RM of St. Philips, I thank you for your dedication to the community and area.

“Here’s to another 40 years,” Vogel said.

On behalf of the RM of Livingston, Mike Kalinowsky expressed his thanks, mentioned the Sunshine Centre in Arran, and reminded everyone that the “first seat of government” was in the Snake Creek Valley.

Sylvia Negraeff, who mentioned that her husband Peter had served on the Happy Hearts board for “a thousand years,” acknowledged how important the Centre is to the community. She recalled having performed for many dances at the Centre, which continue, and commended the volunteers for the amount of work they do.

Gerry Nahnybida mentioned the snooker that is played at the Centre and thanked “the coffee crew” for their work on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. He reminded the audience of the soup-and-sandwich days being held on the fourth Friday of the month, saying those occasions provide a nice time for socializing.

“Be proud of this tremendous facility,” Nahnybida said. “I hope it continues for many years.”

Makohoniuk acknowledged and thanked “the First Nations who helped us a lot.”

Introduced as the oldest members of Happy Hearts, and who had served on the board, were Louis and Vivian Anfinson.

Vivian mentioned the “How Do,” an event of the How family held at the Centre, which attracted family members from across Western Canada.

“We had a good time,” she said. “Our family appreciates this place.”

Saying he can remember when “this place wasn’t here,” Louis Anfinson said he was glad of the turnout to the celebration, “which reminds us that we need to be together.”

As the program ended, Wagantall mentioned how small communities such as Pelly are wonderful locations for persons to retire.

Coffee and doughnuts were available.

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