Sunshine Coast Retiree Women's Group founder Celena Ross.
Sunshine Coast Retiree Women's Group founder Celena Ross.

Coast retiree women’s group gaining popularity

THE NEW Sunshine Coast Retiree Women's Group is gaining momentum with the help of its energetic founder Celena Ross.

The group was formed when Mrs Ross, 64, was forced into retirement four years ago and left feeling like she was in no-man's land as she took on part-time caring of her grandchildren and then full-time caring of her mother.

Mrs Ross, who founded the Sunshine Coast Business Women's Network, felt she had reached a point where, after spending so many years giving willingly to her family, she lacked identity in the business community.

"It was a struggle and I thought other women are having this struggle about who they are without their business card," she said.

"When you have achieved so much in life in the corporate area, that's where the difficulty comes in trying to find yourself in retirement."

She contacted several clubs to find a like-minded tribe but soon found what she really was looking for was female Baby Boomers who lived nearby and could become future friends.

Her online blog, Retiree Matters, which she had run for a few years, gave her an outlet to discuss a range of retirement issues that were impacting on her and those around her.

But Mrs Ross is a person of action. When she couldn't find social connection answers in the Coast community, the only thing she could do was create an answer.

So, about a year ago Mrs Ross set up the Sunshine Coast Retiree Women's Group.

"I established it with a very firm vision," she said.

She sees the group as like-minded, similar-aged, caring and supportive women who want to establish new friends.

The "vibrant" group is for women aged in their 50s and 60s who are semi-retired, transitioning to retirement or recently retired, but not retired from life. They meet over a monthly lunch with stimulating speakers and a monthly morning tea.

During the month, Mrs Ross also organises workshops discussing mental health and financial wellbeing, along with taste testers, makeup and more.

At all functions, Mrs Ross asks the women to put down their bags, then stand not sit, so they are forced to mingle.

"Once you sit, you are stuck," she said.

Mrs Ross has also set up a Meet Your Neighbour for the SCRWG members.

"The women are organising their own (meet-up) within a suburb boundary area."

Anyone who is in the SCRWG and who lives within an agreed boundary organises to meet up and get to know other group members who live in their local area.

"It goes back to that concept of me wanting to look for friends who live within about a 15-minute drive, because you can go to a big lunch and walk away from it without making a connection," Mrs Ross said.

So far, the 400-member SCRWG communicates through a closed Facebook group page that allows Mrs Ross to manage membership.

But the time has come for the not-for-profit group to become incorporated. With that comes the need for an official structure to ensure sustainability of the group, but also opportunities for grants.

Mrs Ross plans to get working on the change in status during the early part of this year. In the meantime, to connect with the group, Mrs Ross said interested members needed to be on Facebook.

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