Fun Entertainment And Lasting Friendships The Wellington Seniors Club Provides For The Social Needs Of Older Residents

Fun Entertainment And Lasting Friendships The Wellington Seniors Club Provides For The Social Needs Of Older Residents

Story By M. Dennis Taylor  |  Photos by Denise Fleischman

The Wellington Seniors Club has been serving the social needs of older residents in the Village of Wellington for nearly 30 years, creating lasting friendships, fun and entertainment for a vibrant slice of the community’s population.

Eileen Kuhnel is the current president of the Wellington Seniors Club, an independent nonprofit that is open to residents of Wellington age 55 and over. “They join when they can, but then get really active when they retire,” Kuhnel said of the group’s large membership.

Kuhnel stressed that the Wellington Seniors Club was established primarily for recreational activities, and its monthly luncheons and seasonal dinners are, in normal times, among the most well-attended events held in Wellington.

Kuhnel explained that 29 years ago, back in 1992, some 25 members joined the fledgling group. Today, there are more than 650 members, enrolled and active. Currently, the membership rolls are frozen until after the start of 2022.

“Even when people get old enough and they go back home up north to be near their families, they remain members so they get the membership newsletter and can keep up with Florida friends,” she said.

While the club would love to get back to business as usual, the group has been careful during the pandemic to continue providing social events in as safe a fashion as possible.

“These events may include a drive-through box lunch special for 250 people,” Kuhnel said. “Everyone wears a mask, it’s not enclosed, and everyone maintains social distancing.”

She is very proud of the way the club and its membership has travailed the difficult times of the pandemic. “Wellington people seem to take better care of themselves and are more cautious,” Kuhnel said.

However, she is eager to get back to in-person events. “We want to move into the next planning stage,” Kuhnel said. “There are new and exciting ideas depending upon what opens up.”

Previously, the club has taken members on social trips, as well as the luncheons. Kuhnel described some of these adventures, such as airboat rides in the Everglades.

“It was exhilarating,” she said. “All the adventures involve a bus ride with about 55 of your favorite Wellington retirees. That’s because of the size of the buses and restaurants that accommodate us. Other trips are on oceangoing boats, flattops for the backcountry observing trips in the Keys, SeaWorld, the St. John’s River, the Broadway Palm Theatre with buffet dinners in Fort Myers, casino trips, and trips to all your favorite and soon-to-be-favorite area restaurants.”

The club makes it easy for local retirees to participate.

“Everything is planned in advance, there’s a trip coordinator, and your only responsibility is to remember your assigned seating so you will still be close to your friends,” Kuhnel said. “The food and beverages are planned, parking is a breeze and your car stays right in the neighborhood.”

Convenience is key when planning events for local seniors.

“Wellington gives us a designated place to park at the community center. The cars are parked there for the day, and we go off on our event,” she said. “The number of activities in the year are about nine lunches, about 12 of the stepping out programs and the two annual dances.”

Those dances include a holiday dance and a spring dance. The board of directors is traditionally installed during the holiday event.

“The camaraderie is so important,” Kuhnel said. “It’s very easy for seniors to get lonely.”

Not big on social media, the group uses phone trees and a newsletter to keep in contact with members.

Stephanie Parreco serves on the board of directors of the club as the recording secretary and vice president. She got involved six years ago when she moved down from Maryland. Parreco likes getting to know other people in her age group.

“I like to have lunch in there about once a month. The luncheons at the equestrian center are great, and the trips that didn’t go on during the pandemic were missed,” she said. “There’s the ballroom, the box lunches, the different vendors every month or so. It’s entertainment for up to 300 at each luncheon. Before COVID-19, we outgrew the facility, and they had to move us to another location.”

Mae Loglisci currently serves as the corresponding secretary. She has served on the board of directors for 11 of her 22 years in the club.

“It’s nice for fellowship with people of the same age, and a continuity of experience,” Loglisci said. “When we started meeting when I joined, there were 35 to 38 people, and now there are 650-plus. We go to many theaters, casinos and the Japanese gardens. Luncheons are now at the gym at Village Park because we outgrew the [community center] building. There are different caterers and there’s entertainment — it’s a fun, fun group.”