Over 1,200 area seniors call the North Fort Myers-based SHARE Club Plus North center a "home away from home."
"It is a home away from home for area seniors," said SHARE Club Program Coordinator Teresa Frank-Fahrner. "It gives them an opportunity to meet new friends, learn new activities and stay healthy and well."
The SHARE (Seniors Health Activities Resource Education) Club is a two-tiered program through the Lee Memorial Health System, providing wellness services for area seniors for the last 20 years. Members 50 and older are provided community discounts, social and educational activities and more.
The first tier is SHARE Club Advantage, a program offered at all Lee Memorial locations for a $10 annual fee for exercise and wellness classes, a discount prescription program, 20 percent discount in LMHS Gift Shops and cafeterias and more.
"SHARE Club Advantage provides county-wide health and wellness programs," said Frank-Fahrner.
The Advantage program has over 30,000 members from throughout Southwest Florida.
SHARE Club Plus, for a $25 annual fee, entitles members to all the benefits of SHARE Club Advantage members, as well as unlimited access to events and services at SHARE Club Plus North. That center is located on Orange Grove Boulevard next to the North Fort Myers Community Pool, a busy place both seasonally and in summer months. It currently has a 1,200-plus membership from North Fort Myers, Cape Coral and other areas.
"We have a special focus on health, exercise as well as social activities," said Frank-Fahrner. "Most of our group activities are peer-taught as well - fellow seniors teachers."
There are German classes, bridge classes, line dancing classes - even a harmonica class.
The art program is very popular there.
"The art teacher is Florence Sanson, and she has various people come in - artists at all levels," she said. "The artwork is incredible."
The Walking Class is also extremely popular there.
"They meet Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays all indoors," she said. "It's exercise, social and inspirational. We've had up to 60 people here for it at one time."
The place is always busy, said volunteer Bonna Krichbaum. On Wednesdays she works the Coffee Bar, while fellow volunteers, her husband, Jack Krichbaum and Will Frederick cook up hot dogs for lunch.
"There's just always so much going on," said Bonna. "People are in exercise programs, the Billiard Room is busy and people are working on puzzles, along with all the other activities."
Paula Short is the assistant coordinator for the center.
"I think it is the communications that attract people," she said. "They like to interact with other members and a lot of 50 plus individuals want to get healthy and that is our goal."
One big benefit of a SHARE Club Plus membership is that pool membership.
"A lot of members take advantage of the pool and they enjoy it," she continued.
While the club offers regular wellness programs and other activities, there is always something different.
"In July there will be a Red, White and Bingo party on July 2," she said.
In seasonal months from October through March, there are Dinner Dances and more.
For more information on all the program's offerings, go to leememorial.org/shareclub/ or call 772-6765.
SHARE Club Plus North is located at 5170 Orange Grave Blvd., in North Fort Myers. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number at the center is 656-7760.