Some of the 600-plus ladies who consider themselves Still Young at Heart, or SYAH for short, really are still young, so that moniker might be a bit misleading. When does that phase kick in anyway?
Nobody seems to care about such things as age when SYAH gathers since the focus of Still Young at Heart is all about having fun together and enjoying the company of other women in Big Canoe.
Sherry Evans was the driving force behind getting SYAH shaking. Moving to Big Canoe after 32 years living in Alpharetta, Sherry found herself in a strange place. The mountains seemed to echo waves of loneliness, a feeling Sherry had not experienced before.
Adding to the “moving experience,” Sherry and her husband Richard retired and found more hours on their hands, leading to overwhelming feelings of isolation.
The couple joined clubs and all the other things newbies do to reach out for friendship, but nothing clicked.
This created an ominous black cloud over their new home, something that was frightening in its intensity.
This led Sherry to a period of introspection as she decided what to do to change things.
Fortunately, Sherry had her old work life as her guide. Years before, Sherry established a consulting business in customer service, teaching people to take control of their own outcomes and create situations using positive communication.
Suddenly, Sherry was her own client!
She used social media to reach out to Big Canoe women, knowing there had to be somebody else who was feeling the blanket of loneliness that was enveloping her.
Her first Facebook post simply asked women to contact her if they were up for a little fun and new friendships. Nothing formal, just a casual lunch or a chat over coffee.
The post hit cyberspace on Sherry’s 60th birthday and within hours a tsunami of “gifts” flooded her inbox.
Seven women were particularly interested in helping get Sherry’s new idea off the ground and that group of seven become known as “The Commissioners.”
A party was planned at Canoe Lodge inviting Big Canoe women to join the fun, whatever that might be.
Would a dozen show up or maybe just five or six? Women trickled in and before long the lodge was loaded with 80 women, all looking for friendship. Many shared their stories of loneliness, sometimes leading to caverns of depression. Many were almost desperate to make new friends and dump their uncomfortable feelings in a virtual trash can.
History in the making.
The seven Commissioners who plan so well are Dee Johnson, Gretchen Hudock, Liv Taylor, Karen Rickards, Koko Sorgen, Robin Voss and Vicky Cheely.
While all have different personalities (although all are Type A) with talents and gifts to offer, amazingly the seven clicked instantly and strong bonds quickly formed.
Their goal, besides throwing the best parties ever, is to make sure SYAH is inclusive to all Big Canoe ladies and all feel welcome in the community. Friendships formed, some destined to last for a lifetime.
Still Young at Heart was not established as a club; there are no rules, no meetings, no dues, no titles, just fun.
But the Commissioners knew with a membership numbering in the hundreds, more had to be offered to keep ladies interested. After all, you can only perform a choreographed dance skit so many times.
Each Commissioner volunteered to coordinate activities that would hold the attention for particular members.
Now there are subgroups of SYAH: book clubs, bingo nights, wine tastings, movie trips, restaurant dinners, walking groups, recipe boxes, pontoon adventures, game nights and, recently added, line dance classes. Sometimes a Date Night is planned, just so guys don’t feel left out.
Crazy parties are still an important part of the SYAH good times. The next one is a May Day Party, May 1 at 5 p.m., at the Activity Field (the old Soccer Field). You can count on springtime antics to keep the ladies well entertained and laughing.
If being part of a gaggle of giggling gals is missing in your life, consider becoming a SYAH lady. Check out the Still Young at Heart Facebook page to join.
Not a member of Facebook? Not a problem. Email Sherry Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll fill you in on all there is to do.
No need to console your loneliness with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough any longer. Come join the “funniest bunch” in Big Canoe. We’d love to meet you!