We had the pleasure of visiting the Brookfield Senior Center and chatting with one of its members, Eileen Sinkus. A delightful and upbeat “seasoned citizen” (the witty title she prefers), Eileen was a joy to speak with as we discussed her very active lifestyle and her love for meeting new people and trying new experiences.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I like to think of myself as a very independent and social person as well as just a regular gal, or should I say woman as I am 87 years old! One of my favorite things to do is meet new people and hear their stories. I also love to try new experiences whenever possible.
Originally, I came to Connecticut from Boston. I worked in the corporate world as a purchasing manager for a company that is now known as Stanley Black & Decker. I moved to Connecticut for my job and, at first, I really didn’t like living in such a rural area. My family and I were used to the accessibility of city life and I had become accustomed to the nightlife in Boston. It took some time to get used to the small-town lifestyle, but we settled nicely in Brookfield and now I can’t picture myself living anywhere else.
I have three children, several grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I love when I get the opportunity to see my family. They are located all over the US, but we make it a point to see each other at least a few times a year. We usually meet up in New York, where my daughter lives, and celebrate by going to Broadway shows and nice dinners out.
When did you start coming to the Senior Center?
I started coming to the Brookfield Senior Center about 13 years ago. It all started with Mahjongg. I used to play Mahjongg when I lived in Boston, but when I moved to Connecticut, I couldn’t find anyone to play with and I had stopped playing. I wanted to begin again and I was looking for a class to help reteach me the game. I heard about the Mahjongg class at the Brookfield Senior Center and I decided to check it out. I am still playing with the wonderful friends I have met here!
Actually, my family encouraged me to check out the Senior Center. After my husband died, I went into a bit of a funk and I wasn’t my active self. My children saw this change in me and encouraged me get back to my old, independent self. So, they suggested that I see what was going on at the Senior Center. They wanted me to get out more and told me I had nothing to lose by going to just one class. They were right and I decided to go to the Mahjongg class. I am so glad that I did. This one class opened up so many doors for me!
Tell us about your experience at the Center
The Brookfield Senior Center opened up a whole new life for me. It opened the door to things that I had no idea I could do. It exposed me to so many different programs, seminars, classes, and trips. There are so many varied and interesting things to do here. It’s just incredible here, and Ellen Melville, the Director, has done a great job making the Center the wonderful resource that it is for area seniors. For me, the Center has become a lifeline. I don’t know where I would be without the support that I have received and wonderful friends I have met. My friends here have become my extended family. I actually feel more fit and younger now than I have ever felt in my entire life. The Brookfield Senior Center has played a great role in my transformation.
What are some of the things that keep you active?
For 9 years, I took part in the Retired Volunteer Service Program (RSVP) that was run through the Center. I worked at a local school with 2nd graders and I helped to teach them how to read and write. My current favorite is the line dancing class, which is held every Tuesday. I have always loved to dance and the class is really great exercise – and great fun!
Also, I am an active member of the YMCA in Brookfield. Through the Silver Sneakers program, my membership is free and I can use all of their facilities. I like to exercise there at least 3 to 4 times a week. And the people at the YMCA have become like family to me as well.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to walk. There is a park right across the street from my house and I really enjoy walking around the track. It gets me out into the fresh air and I get the chance to stop and chat with other people. In addition to the park, I also enjoy walking at the Brookfield Greenway. It’s just heavenly in the warmer months and there are benches along the walking paths where you can sit and admire the surrounding nature.
I really enjoy traveling too! I quite often go to New York City to visit my family and when I am there, I explore the city on foot. We go to shows on Broadway, enjoy the fantastic restaurants, and explore the city. Also, I have become a fan of going on cruises.
Cruises? That sounds like fun.
Well, I actually just got back from a 12 day cruise to the Caribbean. I traveled by myself and I had so much fun. But, I went on my first cruise 3 years ago with my daughter. We had the best time! We went through the Panama Canal and there were just so many different things to do. And, I met the most incredible people.
People have asked me with surprise, “You’re going on a cruise alone?”. I reply that there are thousands of people on the ship! I thrive on meeting new people and I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. When I am on a cruise, I make sure I don’t sit at the same table every night for dinner. I like to jump from table to table in order to see new faces and have new conversations. Also, I really enjoy going to the shows, the casino, dancing, and enjoying the many activities.
What advice do you have for other “seasoned citizens” living in the Western CT area?
My advice is to be open. Don’t be afraid to take that first step – try something new, introduce yourself to someone new! The first step is never easy, but you must have courage and be willing. Also, get off of that recliner and stop watching TV! Nowadays, there are so many offerings and interesting things to do to have a wonderful life. Take advantage of the opportunities at your local Senior Center, at the YMCA, or in your town. I am sure you will find a new passion and gain some new friends who will truly care about you and will become like family.
“Don’t be afraid to take that first step – try something new, introduce yourself to someone new!”
Take Eileen’s advice!