By Casey Neill
Dandenong North’s seniors have been coming together to break social isolation for the past 40 years.
The Dandenong North Senior Citizens Club held a lunch at the Dandenong Club on Wednesday 9 August to mark the milestone.
It has about 70 members who come together in a Latham Crescent hall on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for snooker, bingo, card games, scrabble and more.
They swap books, hold a Christmas dinner, mark Melbourne Cup Day and “there’s always a birthday cake on the go”.
Ron Wardell has been the group’s president for the past two years.
“It’s a social group,” he said.
Other members said it was good exercise, got people out of the house, and stopped social isolation.
Teunis ‘Tom’ Bruinsma is the oldest member at age 97.
He joined through a Dutch club that amalgamated with the senior citizens as its numbers fell away.
Mr Bruinsma came to Australia from the Netherlands, setting sail on 16 December 1949.
“There was nothing left in Holland because Germany took everything,” he said.
Seven weeks later he landed in Australia.
He spent time living on a farm in Labertouche before moving to Dandenong.
His wife of 75 years now needs full-time care and recently moved into a nursing home, leaving Mr Bruinsma home alone.
He joined the Dutch group that blended into the seniors back in 1980, but it’s now more important to him than ever.
“I come here every day,” he said.
“What else do I have to do?”
Billiards is his main pastime and he proudly pointed out signage for the Tom Bruinsma Snooker Room.
Call Mr Wardell on 9795 5736 to get involved.