January 20th, 2021

PROBUS Club connecting again virtually

By Sulz, Dave on September 25, 2020.

Technology enables club to resume meetings

Dave Sulz



Pandemic restrictions are preventing many organizations from getting together in person these days, but thanks to technology, groups are finding other ways to meet.

Such is the case with the PROBUS Club of Lethbridge, which is holding meetings online via Zoom, a platform being used by numerous others to connect virtually.

“Now we can enjoy seeing each other and listening to a speaker together,” says Mary Oordt, vice-president of the Lethbridge club. “As always there are questions and comments that broaden one’s point of view. Chat rooms provide what roundtables used to be – a chance to share ideas among a few about the topic at hand.”

The PROBUS Club features retired or semi-retired members of the professional or business community – men and women – who get together to fellowship, learn and have fun in a non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian group. The organization was formed by Rotary International and originated in Australia in 1986.

The Lethbridge club is one of 256 PROBUS clubs in Canada constituting about 38,000 members, and one of seven clubs in Alberta. There are some 4,000 clubs around the world. The Lethbridge club, which has been operating for 22 years, features 57 members.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the club to cancel events such as a planned field trip to local cheese factory in May, as well as a summer barbecue. But Zoom has enabled the group to reconnect, which it did for its annual general meeting this month. That served as a trial run for the monthly speaker presentations which will kick off in October.

The club meets the third Wednesday of the month, and Dr. Daren Heyland, a local resident who serves as a critical-care doctor at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., is the scheduled speaker for Oct. 21. He will talk about seniors health and making end-of-life decisions.

The club’s lineup of speakers for the current season will feature an array of interesting topics ranging from costuming to heart health to sailing solo and more.

“It is exciting to know of the many people in our area who are doing exciting and worthwhile things,” says Oordt.

People who are interested in listening in to a PROBUS Club of Lethbridge online presentation (which start at 10 a.m. on Zoom) can obtain a meeting link by calling Teresa at 403-329-8967 to asking to be a visitor at no charge. For those unable to connect by computer, there’s an option to listen in using a telephone landline.

Keeping members connected is an important role for the club, says Oordt.

“A lot of us are still reluctant to go out a lot because we are a vulnerable group because of COVID-19,” she notes, adding that, as a result, it can be easy to become isolated. And that can potentially lead to life-threatning issues “because people might not reach out for what they need, or might not know what is available in the community.”

Oordt has been part of the PROBUS Club of Lethbridge “for 15 or 16 years,” adding she became involved through her late husband Martin, who was a member of the club. She and Martin operated Lethbridge Living magazine.

“It’s been a really interesting club because we get some very interesting speakers over the years,” says Oordt.

A couple of special-interest groups have formed within the club – a hiking club, which is not meeting at present, and a book club to which Oordt belongs, and which has been meeting via Zoom.

The club has enjoyed a number of interesting field trips in the past and Oordt is hopeful that perhaps those can be resumed by next spring. And if not, she’s sure the club will figure out something. The pandemic is prompting people “to think creatively about what is possible, even if it’s not the same way you did it before,” she says.

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