Group reaching out to aging population

Originally published in Peace Arch News on April 28th, 2010. To go to the Peace Arch News Website please click here

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons is trying to revitalize its image to include the new, younger aging population, including people who don’t necessarily fit the stereotype of retired seniors.

Locally, White Rock resident Jack Mar has stepped up to the challenge of drawing CARP’s “new vision of aging in Canada” to the Peninsula.

Earlier this year, Mar became chair of the White Rock/Surrey chapter, which was on the brink of disbanding.

“The chapter has been in limbo for about one year without any activity,” he said. “The chapter was starting to go into obscurity.”

Worried about the future of the group and its approximately 1,500 members, the 73-year-old, who was already a board member, decided to take the helm.

Mar said he can relate to the national organization’s push to appeal to zoomer, boomer and senior demographics.

Although he retired from advertising and marketing in his mid-50s, he said he continued working, taking on positions with an ad agency, in private consulting and as a part-time actor.

“What is retirement anymore?” he said, noting it’s difficult to define the aging population. “What is a senior? People who are labelled that way kind of resent it.”

When Mar first joined CARP around 10 years ago, it was to take advantage of its benefits, such as travel discounts.

He became a board member last summer, answering the call for people to take on administrative roles.

Mar now identifies CARP as an advocacy group that focuses on issues relating to those 45 and older, such as pension reform, health care and senior abuse.

“These are issues that have been ongoing for us,” he said. “We are, and always have been, someone who protects the interests of the aging population.”

With a new board behind him, Mar is looking to increase membership, activity and interest by hosting, and participating in, more community events.

One such event will be held May 19 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Rotary Field House, 14600 Rotary Way.

The wine-and-cheese evening will feature guest speaker Susan Eng, CARP vice-president for advocacy, who will discuss pension reform and health care.

Mar said it’s important for the local chapter to raise its profile, considering everything it stands for.

“We are the voice for social change,” he said. “If this chapter became obsolete and disbanded, there would be no voice.”

For more information about the May 19 event, contact April Lewis at 604-536-8717 or [email protected].

Originally published on the Peace Arch News website on April 28th, 2010. To go to Peace Arch News Website please click here

Keywords: seniors, event