Jean Guy Asselin’s shed in Braeside was sitting unused full of equipment and tools, when Darrel O’Shaughnessy, Chair, Greater Arnprior Seniors Council, approached him more than a year ago about using it as the home base for the new Arnprior McNab/Braeside Men’s Shed (The Shed).
With the plan to have the Rotary Club help empty his shed, Jean Guy agreed.
He admits with a smile that The Shed keeps him out of trouble and that he’s happy the space and tools are getting used.
“Since The Shed opened, I’ve met a lot of people I didn’t know and I now have a stronger connection to the local community,” explained Jean Guy, who retired from Ontario Hydro in 2005.
Community support the strength behind the Men’s Shed success
The Shed, a place for guys to get together to socialize, engage in woodworking, share interests and a cup of coffee, opened its doors to the local community on February 5, 2019 as a program of the Arnprior McNab/Braeside Seniors Active Living Centre (SALC). The SALC and its Men’s Shed are made possible through a partnership between Arnprior Regional Health, the Town of Arnprior, the Township of McNab/Braeside and the Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.
Denis MacNeil, one of the initial members, makes the point that many other Men’s Sheds face the obstacles of not having community support and/or a designated place to meet.
“Being under Arnprior Regional Health and Darrel’s community leadership, short-circuited us to get community support right away,” said Denis.
One year later, The Shed has 30 members and a growing list of community projects.
Helping build a healthier community
The Men’s Sheds are an international movement to help senior men remain productive, healthy, active and engaged in their community.
“You hear from the wives that it’s changed the men’s lives,” said Denis. “It’s opened up areas in their lives they never considered and gives them social interaction and something to look forward to – I just love seeing what it does for the guys here.”
Dan, a new member, was diagnosed with cancer last year and recently finished chemotherapy and radiation.
“When you have cancer and you’re going through treatment and attending appointments, you’re too busy to worry about everything,” he explained.
Today, he is not mentally and physically ready to return to work, yet – he tires easily, experiences nausea, lacks stamina and needs to rebuild his confidence. As part of his rehabilitation, he joined The Men’s Shed and attends every Tuesday and Thursday for half days.
“The Men’s Shed helps as a distraction because I’m in the moment, and it gets me out of the house and helps me feel like I’m somebody,” said Dan, who works in carpentry. “The guys are all positive people, they’ve each been through something and have been a good support to me.”
A way to give back to the local community
When Mickie Mackie joined The Shed, he had previous woodworking experience but didn’t know any of the guys. He explains that he enjoys the social connection while being busy doing work – and, also that the group prioritizes helping the local community by building lending libraries and shelves for the Opportunity Shop, for example.
“The requests from local organizations continue to roll in and our skills are evolving,” said Denis. “We started making bird houses and we now can design, build and install projects such as the boards for outdoor rinks or memory boxes for the new Grove – this is what excites me.”
The Men’s Shed is open Tuesdays and Thursdays and welcomes all – no previous experience required.