Creative Social Center celebrates 25 years
As you reach half-way up the stairs to the Creative Social Center, a friendly chair, as if placed there just for you by someone who cares, awaits you.
The sound of recorders playing a wistful melody fills the sunny hallway, enticing the visitor to come closer. Opening the door to the Center, photographs of smiling children who have attended the nursery, housed in the same space, convince you that this is a friendly place.
The Center is buzzing with activity. This morning, people are working on their paintings and sculptures. The recorder class is in session, to be followed by folk-dancing. In the kitchen, volunteers are preparing lunch.
On other days there are classes in choir and creative writing and special field trips.
“This place is like fairyland,” says Frances Karanofsky, as she observes the still life display in art class and tries to record what she sees with patient, delicate strokes.
While Karanofsky is pursuing something she has always loved, drawing and painting was a new discovery for Toba Buchenwald. “I’ve never painted before,” Buchenwald said. “It’s given me a new way to relax.”
Except for the teachers, who are paid, the Center is run by volunteers. “We all enjoy it,” said Marianne Wall, as she and friends Marsha Kammer and Clara Stubina took care of business in the kitchen. “And I think we are doing it for ourselves.”
Members are active seniors from around Montreal, including La Salle, Saint-Laurent, Mount Royal and from out of town, coming to the Center for activities and camaraderie.
It was on a trip to Copenhagen that Helen Knight, the founder of the Center, first saw organizations where people learned together, shared meals and formed a community. “I realized I had a dream, seeing places where the workers ate with the people.”
When Knight came into contact with the ideas of humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow, it was a turning point. “This is it, this is what I want to do, I thought,” she said.
Knight explains that the Center is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow believed that once basic survival needs are met, social needs emerge, such as the need for love, family, friends and community. Only when these needs are fulfilled, can other needs, for recognition, self-esteem and creative expression, come into play. “The idea of belonging is absolutely essential,” Knight says. “Being part of a group is the best way to live our lives.”
While the members pursue the activities they enjoy, the fruits of their labour are shared through performances, an annual vernissage, and the Center ’s newsletter, where the members may publish their creative writing.
“When people feel good about themselves, you can encourage them to fulfill their potential, ” Knight says.
The Creative Social Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary Sunday, September 30 at 11:30 am at 5237 Clanranald, corner Isabella. Everyone is welcome. Info: 514-488-0907.