By Andrea Arnold

Men in the McBride area have a new opportunity to meet together, socialize and find ways to help the community. The Mens Shed has been meeting for several months, planting the seeds for what President Terry Winkler hopes is a bigger and more community involved group. At this time, they have 13 members that meet the first Thursday of each month. 

The goal of The Mens Shed is to build a safe environment for men to work together, and share life with a common goal of helping the community. 

“I think The Mens Shed is a neat thing as far as mens support goes,” said Winkler. “It gives men a place to go hang out, talk and do stuff. Often, talking starts to happen while working on projects.”

For the time being, the group meets at the McBride Robson Valley Community Services building for their monthly meetings. In the weeks between meetings, Winkler says that some members get together for coffee, or a chat in an official capacity.

Winkler said many men who have retired realize that many of their friendships stemmed from work and they lost steam once they were not regularly together. He also thinks that men who have lost their spouse and are looking for camaraderie can benefit from the group. 

He has experienced the benefit of being brought together with other men through the group. 

“It provides an opportunity for new friends with common ground, and can provide a level of mental health support,” he said. 

The group is not only open to men who have reached these stages in life. They welcome men of all ages. 

As the group grows and they take on projects, Winkler expects to see opportunities for the men to learn from each other.

“If we get appliances that need fixing, or a small carpentry project, one member may have skills and be able to teach the others, broadening our skill set,” he said. 

He says that everyone has something they could share, regardless of age.

“Even a young man who has a good knowledge of technology could help educate older members.”

Winkler would like to see the group grow and have their own facility that would provide them with a meeting area for socializing and a workshop so they can take on small projects in a central location.

“Right now, if we have a project, we are working in a member’s garage,” he said. “We are looking for small projects, but we don’t want to take jobs away from local contractors.”

They are willing to help members of the community who are unable to perform tasks like shovelling snow, changing light bulbs, stacking wood, minor repairs around the house or grocery shopping. Winkler says they want to help seniors age at home in any way they can.

Winkler says they are planning to build and sell planters or benches as a fundraiser.

Other communities such as Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof have grown to include a small thrift store where they are able to sell refurbished appliances and small projects, and Winkler hopes to see McBride’s group grow to offer similar services, hopefully both.

“We’d love to have men come check it out, and hopefully join us,” said Winkler.

Currently the group is meeting on the first Thursday of the month at 3:00 at the RVCS office,  942 3rd Ave, in McBride. However, in February it will be the second Thursday.They have set up an e-mail address, [email protected] to request help or for more information on the group.