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Home News Inaugural Christmas banquet brings seniors and Gen Z together

Inaugural Christmas banquet brings seniors and Gen Z together

Inaugural Christmas banquet brings seniors and Gen Z together
Jason Kerr/Daily Herald. From left to right, Pat Wiest, Doreen Halbgewachs, Lynda Coppens, Margo Marshall, and May Barr open their gifts during the Seniors Christmas Banquet at Plaza 88 on Friday, Nov. 25.

In only a few short hours, Janet Hauser has learned plenty about Generation Z.

Hauser, a former Prince Albert resident who now lives in B.C., showed up for the inaugural Seniors Christmas Banquet at Plaza 88 on Friday. The event was a chance to bring the two generations together to learn from each other, and Houser has already heard plenty about the plans many of them have post-graduation.

She’s even dispensed a bit of advice too. For Hauser, it was a welcome change from a regular Christmas evening.

“It’s to share, to figure out that we do belong together and to share our resources—their energy and strength and our knowledge,” she said.

Hauser isn’t alone. More than 200 people came out for the inaugural Christmas banquet, which had seniors partner with Prince Albert youth in games like ’60s trivia and bingo.

Hauser decided to attend at the urging of Evangeline Olsen, one of her best friends and an organizing committee members. Olsen said there is a strong need for events like this in the community.

“I think it’s great for seniors to get out after the pandemic and have a fun night and have great food and fellowship,” Olsen said. “It’s been great.”

Many people had a hand in organizing the inaugural banquet, but the idea itself came from Patience Mabadeje, the director of Hearts2Handz Support Services.

Photo courtesy of Hearts2Handz Support Services. Guests chow down during the inaugural Seniors Christmas Banquet at Plaza 88 on Friday, Nov. 25.

Mabadeje has wanted to host an event like this in Prince Albert for a long time, but wasn’t able to do so until Friday. Like Olsen, Mabadeje said it was important to have an event that honoured and supported seniors.

“I feel seniors, especially those in independent living, I feel they have nothing, and that’s the message I brought to them as well today, that we wanted them to feel seen. We wanted to honour them,” she said.

“It was very important for me to make sure that they feel seen and appreciated, and just so they don’t feel like nobody remembers them. I am so super happy that they got that.”

Mabadeje has a heart for seniors, something she attributes to the strong relationship she had with her own grandmother. Since COVID-19 first arrived in Canada, Mabadeje, her family, and Hearst2Handz have done everything they could to make sure seniors don’t feel forgotten.

However, Mabadeje also wanted Prince Albert youth involved too.

“I feel like the younger generation is very detached,” she explained. “They don’t even want to talk, so I wanted to bring them too.”

Mabadeje said the event went better than expected, but she worried about how it started. As a strong woman of faith, she prayed about it before she began organizing, but was discouraged by how slow the initial ticket sales were.

However, once she enlisted the help of a few local friends and sponsors, tickets sales boomed. The event sold out more than a week before it was scheduled.

“It was a huge, huge success,” Mabadeje said. “The tickets sold out last week, and I’ve been getting calls every day until now (Friday). Even some people came and there were no tickets, but we were able to fit people in, and they had a blast. It was packed full.”

As for the future, Mabadeje said she hopes to hold a similar event next year, and perhaps even another one in the spring.

“That is the plan,” she said. “Honestly, like I said, I’m a person of faith. I prayed about this, and it was the plan to make it an annual thing. I just asked God, ‘tell me two things I could do,’ and one was this.”

@kerr_jas • jason.kerr@paherald.sk.ca