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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    Groton’s Club 55 raises community’s spirit with its endless activities

    Anne McMullen, left, of Mystic, and other Club 55 members set up the donated items for their flea market Friday, May 10, 2024, at at Thrive 55+ Active Living Center in Groton. The flea market is one of the club’s fundraisers to support seniors and the community. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Sharon Chernesky, front, and her fellow Club 55 members set up their flea market Friday, May 10, 2024, at at Thrive 55+ Active Living Center in Groton. The flea market is one of the club’s fundraisers to support seniors and the community. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Debi Ziegler, and her sister, Terry Ziegler, Groton, sort the yarn while they and their fellow Club 55 members set up their flea market Friday, May 10, 2024, at at Thrive 55+ Active Living Center in Groton. The flea market is one of the club’s fundraisers to support seniors and the community. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Obbie Hill, of Gales Ferry, places items that have been donated onto a cart to be taken to the area where Club 55 members are setting up their flea market Friday, May 10, 2024, at Thrive 55+ Active Living Center in Groton. The flea market is one of the club’s fundraisers to support seniors and the community. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton ― A group of volunteers sorted through an array of donated items, from yarn to decorations, on tables at the Thrive 55+ Active Living Center one afternoon earlier this month.

    They were getting ready for the Club 55 Flea Market the next day, an annual fundraiser that the club at the Thrive 55+ Active Living Center, formerly called the Groton Senior Center, has been organizing for decades.

    It’s one of many fundraisers and events that the club does throughout the year.

    Carol-Ann Galiszuski, secretary of Club 55, said one of the roles of the long-standing service organization is to raise money to provide services to seniors, the community and the center. She said providing opportunities for socialization for seniors is another big part of the club.

    The club contributes every month to the McBeth Fund to help seniors facing food insecurity, Galiszuski said. It also donates to organizations, such as the USS Groton Sail Foundation, Inc., which is working to create a monument to those who built and served on submarines, their families, and the community.

    It funds academic achievement awards for Groton residents to further their education.

    The club sponsors entertainment for events at the center and also sponsors special events, dinners and luncheons. The club is the official sponsor of Santa at the “Celebrate the Seasons” holiday event.

    The club’s mission is “to provide seniors with the opportunity for social and recreational activities, as well as community service that makes life meaningful and demonstrates the valuable contribution of seniors to the Groton community.”

    “I think that part of it is you're giving people hope and raising their spirits, giving them something to look forward to,” Galiszuski said.

    The club has about 100 members that are involved in its activities, including 30 to 40 members that participate all the time, said Galiszuski.

    Club 55 President Elizabeth Hogan said last year, the club contributed more than $7,000 to support activities at Thrive 55+ Active Living Center; The National Memorial East Preservation Fund; the Season of Celebrations event; academic achievement awards for Groton residents; the purchase of small equipment needed for the center; and the McBeth Fund.

    Hogan said that while programs had continued during the COVID-19 pandemic, either virtually or outside, the club wasn’t able to fund-raise. Now, she said the club has recovered from that and is able to offer more academic achievement awards ― a total of $3,500 in awards this year ― and sponsor more events.

    Hogan said the club gave out valentines for a cup of coffee and a treat at The Cove Coffee Bar at the center on Valentine’s Day, sponsored Irish step dancers for the center’s St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, and holds an artisans’ fair in the fall, among other events.

    The club organized a new program, a Remembrance Gathering, this week after a longtime club member, Elaine Sloan, who died last month, had proposed a way to remember and celebrate the lives of people lost during the pandemic, Hogan said. People wrote the names of deceased loved ones on the board, their obituaries were placed in a binder, and yellow ribbons were given to their families to tie to a memorial tree at the center or take home.

    Pat Hickey-Cafaro, a board member who was setting up a table with glassware for the flea market, said she likes to help out and that there is “room for everybody” in the group.

    “We learn to work together,” she said.

    Linda Lemanski, the club’s vice president who was president and helped keep the club going through Zoom meetings during the pandemic, said the club has “a good crew” and, among its activities, sponsors a car show at the center and sells refreshments at events.

    Carol Cassidy, a volunteer with Club 55 and Thrive 55+ Active Living Center, who retired after 40 years of teaching, said she likes helping people and believes in contributing to the organizations she belongs to.

    “I really enjoy meeting people,” Cassidy said. “I enjoy feeling youthful. I enjoy being part of something bigger than myself.”

    Thrive 55+ Active Living Center Program Supervisor Kathy Williams called the club “the backbone for our volunteers.”

    “They do a lot to give back to the community, not just within the center but outside of the center,” Program Supervisor Cindy Olsen said.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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