The Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs report finds there are significant improvements in seniors’ health when they feel connected to their community. And that’s an important reason why Stella’s Supper is making a big difference.

Stella’s Supper is hosted by the Soroptimist International of Victoria Westshore.

“Just think of the word ‘optimist’ and add ‘S-O-R’ – to do with women – on the front of it” says past-president of the organization, Joan Jackson.

“The word is made-up,” says current Soroptimist International of Victoria Westshore president Cathy Waters. “It’s loosely translated Latin, and it means ‘best for women.’ So the organization is set up to support women and girls throughout the world in various programs.”

“We began in 1921,” says Jackson, “and our particular club started in 2010, so we’re one of the newer clubs, but we’re small but mighty!  It’s a great group of women!”

“No one gets paid,” adds Waters.  “We all volunteer, and do our part, and we’re always looking for members.  Our club is filled with a lot of women who are entrepreneurial, and very creative, and we come up with some really great ideas for programs, and we have a lot of fun too!”

On this night, the club volunteers are working together to host Stella’s Supper, providing a delicious meal, and an evening for seniors who might not otherwise have a social network to meet.  The dinner is named for Stella Moffatt, a Soroptimist member for 50 years, who brought the idea to this club after moving here from Kamloops, where a similar event was hosted.

“I thought there was room here for [a dinner for seniors]” says Moffatt, “because there’s a lot of seniors in this area, and a lot of seniors who live alone, and they need help.  And I’m one of them” she adds. “I’m 87, turning 88, and I live alone.”

Cindy McCallum is a new Soroptimist member, and says she had the “truly wonderful” task of phoning and confirming guests, and arranging volunteer drivers for those who could not get themselves to the dinner.

“So many have been here before, and the compliments were absolutely crazy!” says McCallum.  “And I got all the compliments, even though I haven’t even been here before!” she says with a giggle of joy.  “They couldn’t say enough about the dinner. And they wanted a tip jar, they wanted to know anything they could do to actually pay back. So, they just love it! They just think we’re all just wonderful!”

Linda Cain had the honour of delivering a $2000 cheque to Soroptimists Westshore from the Victoria Truth Centre, which recently moved to a smaller location.

“And when we sold the property there was money left over, so we’re been, each month, or every other month, supporting grassroots local charities that are supporting families, youth…small, grassroots organizations that don’t get much support,” Cain explains.

There were 36 guests who happily enjoyed Stella’s Supper. It’s held twice a year, at no cost to the guests. I asked Stella Moffatt how this night makes her feel, knowing she brought the event to this community.

“I feel that…hmmm…what do I feel?” Moffatt collects her thoughts, then quietly speaks.  “I feel that my life has been worthwhile. That I have accomplished something in this community – a community that I parachuted into – that is going to last.”

Veronica Cooper