Virginia Kostecki started attending Brookfield Over the Hill Gang monthly meetings when she provided transportation for her aunt, Winifred Siwiec.
After her aunt passed away, Kostecki kept coming.
“I made friends,” the Hubbard woman said. “I come every month to see my friends.”
For Bill Bresnan of Greenville, the Over the Hill Gang meetings give him an opportunity to “visit my friends, get out of the house and do something.”
These seniors are far from “over the hill.” They want to be out among others, keep active, have fun and maybe learn something, all possible at Over the Hill Gang’s last Friday of the month get-togethers.
“It’s good to get out and be with other people who share the same circumstances and share a meal and a good time,” said Jean Kozarich, president of the group, which is open to people 55 and older.
Kozarich joined in 2008, the year after her husband died.
“I had to get involved in something or I’d go crazy around the house,” she said. “I feel like, if I stop, I’m done for.”
The group’s meetings promote health in the individual members, said Kristi Lawson, community service representative for Home Instead Senior Care, the Austintown-based home health agency that offers everything from meal preparation to hospice care.
For the November meeting, Lawson led the group in brain games, which included unscrambling words and deciphering words from minimal clues.
“It’s important to have the brain active and challenge yourself,” she said. “I think it’s important to get together with people in the community. I think it’s amazing there’s a group like this in the community. It really improves the quality of life for the seniors.”
The group meetings often include entertainment – a big hit with many – and always feature a meal (provided by Barbara Koerber and her team of volunteer helpers) costing $4, bingo and card games. Birthdays and anniversaries are recognized.
The group holds raffles to supplement the money raised through the meal.
Veronica Medved signed on as the group’s treasurer because “I want to feel useful.”
She’s one of those charged with trying to find ways to get new people to come out. The group used to attract 100 people for every meeting, but those numbers have typically been down by 20 or 30 people this year, Kozarich said. The count dipped down to 54 for one meeting this year, she said.
Transportation is a barrier for some who might otherwise come, organizers said.
The group is important for those who come.
“People come from all over the area,” Kozarich said. “I have people from Greenville who come. I have people from Warren.”
The group next meets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 29 in the Brookfield Fire Department social hall, 774 Route 7. For information, call Kozarich at 330-240-6049.