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PROBUS club keeps professional retirees connected

This Wednesday, meet the local chapter of a global organization that offers semi-retired and retired professionals networking, social activities and guest speakers on trending topics. What's Up Wednesday is a regular feature profiling interesting businesses, organizations and people in town.

Most of us dream of the day we will get to retire.

No more commuting, no more stress, enjoying a life of leisure — these are the things we hope for as soon as we turn 65, or even earlier if possible.  

But what happens when you finally get there, and you realize “the life of leisure” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? You miss your coworkers and daily routine. The feeling of being needed and valued starts to fade. For some people, it can be quite a traumatic time as they transition from full-time employee to retiree.

This is why PROBUS — an acronym for Pro(fessional) Bus(iness) — retiree social clubs are thriving around the world. It brings together retired and semi-retired professionals interested in networking and connecting with one another on a regular basis, as well as to socialize and keep abreast of trending topics.

“People who have just retired are going through a traumatic phase in their life, but this gives them an option to get out there, get into social contacts, make new friends, that’s what we’re all about,” said Richard Furlong, vice-president of the Men’s PROBUS Club of Newmarket.

Every meeting features a guest speaker who talks about trending topics, as well as a coffee and donut social. The group usually meets for lunch after the meeting at a local restaurant for more discussion and socializing. There are also day outings, such as wine tours and golf tournaments.

During April’s PROBUS Month, the local organization invited its members to bring friends to the annual general meeting and provide them with more information on the benefits of joining.

PROBUS Newmarket president Sunny Lau, who worked in the information technology field with The Bank of Montreal from 1976 until he retired in 2011, joined the Newmarket club 3-½ years ago.

He said the club it is great, especially for retirees who love to travel overseas.

“When we have a PROBUS badge, we can potentially attend PROBUS club meetings overseas. We’ll get insight for the city or town, which is a great benefit to us,” he said.

Newmarket currently has one men’s club and two women’s clubs. The men’s club was formed in June 1991 and currently has about 100 members. The women’s clubs have 300 members in total.

“The difference really is the ladies tend to be a little more social than the men,” Furlong joked.  

When you join a PROBUS club, there is a lot of potential to make your way into an executive volunteer role, which is an opportunity to both hone and learn new skills.

Furlong, who worked for 35 years in the chemical industry, has been a member since 2005. He has held various executive positions within the PROBUS organization, including director and president of PROBUS Canada. He is currently working with PROBUS Global on communications with members across the world.

Club treasurer Robert Vernon has also held various management roles throughout his 15 years with PROBUS.

“I enjoy coming out, meeting the fellas, seeing the speaker, it’s a nice but it’s only two hours,” he said.

Members come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, ranging in age from 58 to 85. Most members join through friends and acquaintances who are members.

Naqi Ahsan, 62, who joined the group last year, said he enjoys the friendship and camaraderie of the gentlemen.

“The biggest thing is the relaxed atmosphere and no pressure. That sets it apart from many other clubs,” he said.

Ahsan added he enjoys the guest speakers and the variety of topics.

Speakers share their expertise on topics such as health, finances and well-being, Furlong said, and authors have spoken about their books.

At the club April 17 AGM, guest speaker Teresa Turner of CANABO Medical Clinic discussed the use of medical marijuana for seniors —a hot topic these days.

“For seniors, it’s for pain control, emotional control … we’re hearing all kinds of different stories, so it’s nice to have a rep from that industry coming in to tell us what some of the pluses and some of the negatives are (of using medical marijuana),” said Furlong.

Turner said the timing is perfect to discuss the topic as more information is coming out since marijuana was legalized in Canada last October.

“Cannabis can be a safe option, especially for seniors,” Turner said. “A lot of people are resistant to taking it because of the stigma, but it’s changing.

“I’ve seen patients (for whom)  CBD cannabis has changed their lives, stopping tremors and pain,” she shared.

After Turner’s presentation, there were plenty of questions and discussion among the club members.

PROBUS originated in England in 1965 and has grown internationally with clubs in 20 countries and 300,000 members. PROBUS came to Canada in the late 1980s and there are now 244 clubs across the country with more than 32,000 members.

All clubs are self-governed, non-political and non-religious, as well as non-profit. There is a small yearly membership fee that covers the cost of the meeting space and coffee and doughnuts.

The next Men’s PROBUS Newmarket meeting is Wednesday, May 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at Seton Hall (at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church), 17955 Leslie St., Newmarket, with a guest speaker on body aging. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to attend. To get in touch with the Newmarket Men’s PROBUS Club, email [email protected]


Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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