Community connections at the heart of Belrose Country Club
At Belrose Country Club, residents keep busy with an active social calendar, which offers themed dinners, aqua aerobics, gentle yoga, and qi gong, to name just a few.
But for many residents, they take the opportunity afforded by retirement to find a deeper meaning and purpose, giving back to the community and supporting an array of local and national charities.
Belrose's close-knit group of residents is passionate about helping those in need, whether that involves knitting, donating, collecting items, organising fundraisers, or a combination of these activities.
Jean Johnson, who has lived in the Northern Beaches retirement village for seven years, said the community engagement is heart-warming.
"Calls often go out for help and the response is wonderful," she said. "Most people, when they hear of something that needs supporting, will throw their heart into it and do what they can to support it."
Caitlin Beyer is Belrose's Lifestyle Activities Officer and, as well as organising around 100 social activities each month for residents, spearheads many of the charity collections and events. She is passionate about the Belrose community and says she has "the best job in the world!"
"It's rewarding to make a difference," she said. "The people at our village know that keeping active is very important, and that also encapsulates being involved. They are naturally generous, and to donate to charities gives them purpose."
In addition to supporting charities like R U OK Day, RSPCA and Cancer Council, much of the Belrose community's efforts are in aid of Care Essentials, which collects donations for homeless and women's shelters across Sydney. "It's important for us to help out people in the local area," explained Caitlin, "and producing knitted goods gives a lot of purpose to our knitters."
Jean is one of these avid knitters and, as well as knitting beanies and scarves for Care Essentials, she has made beanies for Chemo Kids and tiny teddies to celebrate those who have been made Australian citizens. "They're in green and gold, Australian colours, isn't that gorgeous," she said.
"The homeless appeal has had great support," continued Jean. "All sorts of people are taking things up and Caitlin's office is just about packed out with the response we've had for it. It is amazing. It will need a car or two to take that lot away, I'd say."
Indeed, the need has never been greater. The 2016 ABS Census reported that homelessness in Australia has grown by 13.7% in five years, with those aged over 55 experiencing a 28% increase in homelessness.
A sense of generosity and giving back to those less fortunate than themselves is part of the fabric of the Belrose community. "We have a close-knit community and residents have the space to hold their own privacy, identity and independence, but also the strength that comes with belonging to a community and small village," said Caitlin.
The feeling of belonging and togetherness also benefits the residents, many of whom rallied around Jean when her husband passed away. "I had a lot of support," said Jean. "When you're in trouble, there's always someone around to talk to, if you want to. And if you don't, you don't. It's so nice to have people near you."
"I think it's a very good community," she explained. "I find the staff are very, very helpful. And very pleasant. And I'm very, very happy here."
If you would like to find out more about Belrose Country Club, visit https://retireaustralia.com.au/communities/belrose-country-club/.