Fun and friendship: Meet the New Friends Social Group
From Sunday brunches to Christmas parties, singles 45 and over are taking time to meet
March 9, 2017, 2:55 pm ASTLast Updated: March 9, 2017, 2:55 pm AST'
It’s Sunday morning at Freeman’s in Fairview. Kathy Harvie and her friends are not only at the biggest table in the restaurant, but the one that looks like the most fun.
A group of tables are put together for 15 people. They eat, they laugh, they make conversation.
But the group isn’t here for a special event, they meet every Sunday.
This is the New Friends Social Group, a group for singles 45 and older. It was started by Kathy Harvie, 58, in January as a way to meet people and make friends.
“Being single when you are 50 and over is a lot different than being single when you are 20-something,” said Harvie. “Maybe you are recently separated or recently widowed and you are just looking to get out of the house and meet some new people.”
Harvie first started a Sunday brunch group more than five years ago after she split with a live-in partner. She saw an advertisement for a local seniors social group, but decided it wasn’t for her because she found they weren’t friendly, so she started her own.
Her group rebranded this January to the current name, keeping many of the same members.
“I thought about it and said, I can start my own group,” said Harvie. “I have started other groups in the past. I put an ad on Kijiji and now here we are.”
The group meets every Sunday for brunch at a different restaurant. There are some members that come from as far away as Elmsdale, so they like to change up the meeting locations. Some of the spots they frequent are in Dartmouth, Lower Sackville, Bedford, Clayton Park and Fairview.
Alan Williamson is 75 years old. He has been a member of the group for about three and a half years and is responsible for booking the weekly brunches.
“Living by myself, it just gave me something to do on the weekends and Sundays,” said Williamson. “And then when I found out about what other events they had going (on) it interested me, and I have been here ever since.”
There’s also a monthly Saturday night dinner at a restaurant, in addition to an annual Christmas party and trips out of town on special days like Father’s Day. Later this month they are planning to go to Sugar Moon Farm.
About 20 people regularly show up to the weekly Sunday brunches, but there are 55 members on the Facebook group and about 150 people on Harvie’s mailing list. They get about two new members a month.
The ages of the members range greatly. The youngest are in their early to mid 50s, while the group’s oldest member is 91. Harvie said the average age is about 65.
“It would be nice to get more people in the 45 to 55-year-old range because the group always needs to change,” said Harvie. “If it stays the same, and everyone gets older, then it is hard to get people to do things.”
In Halifax this should be a possibility. According to the 2011 National Household Survey conducted by Statistics Canada, there are 25,300 people between the ages of 45 to 55 in the Halifax region who have never been married, separated from their spouse, divorced or widowed. This compares to only 13,585 people between the ages of 60 and 69, who are the average age of the people in Harvie’s group.
Harvie said that the group is usually a mix of about 60 per cent women and 40 per cent men, but occasionally can become as much as a 75 per cent women and 25 per cent men. She finds this is normal of any seniors social group.
A few relationships have come out of the group.
“We have had people meet through the group and they live together, or they have gotten married,” said Harvie. “Sometimes they are just a couple, or maybe a companionship couple.”
While new relationships are exactly what some people are looking for, it is the friendship and sense of belonging that comes with the group that makes it special for those involved.
Like Williamson said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We have some people here who carry on a lot and I’m the ring leader.”