HISTORY OF SHARON MEN'S CLUB
The Sharon Men’s Club was born out of recognition that retirement creates a void in one’s life. After working for years, we are confronted with the reality that our daily routine has changed and we now have to find new ways to occupy the large amount of time that has suddenly become available. We no longer go to work. We no longer have associates, employees, colleagues (some of whom are friends) surrounding us on a daily basis. Old relationships fade and we find ourselves trying to cope with this void. We try to find a new group of friends and develop new relationships.
Norma Fitzgerald, the Director of the Council on Aging for the Town of Sharon in 1992, recognized the need for a social group to help retired men meet their social needs. With this in mind, she enlisted the support of Dave Berger, a retired pharmacist, and David Clifton, the Recreation Director, and together they began to develop an organization that would help retirees navigate their retirement.
The initial plan was to provide a social outlet, but little did they realize the scope of the journey they were embarking on. Little did they know that they created a group that would support one another and that by showing an interest in each other's well-being, as was initially envisioned, the group would actually enhance wellness, improve cognition, enhance the quality of life through conversation and friendship. They created a group that would be there as a friend when members experienced illness or death of loved ones A group that would serve as a means of to prevent isolation and loneliness
From its earliest beginnings, Dave Berger was a cornerstone of the group. He reached out to his friends and assembled a core consisting of Henry Goulston, Dave Migdal, Saul Fingold, Richard Shear, Harold Schneiderman, and Maurice Palter and in 1992; this social group became The Sharon Men’s Club. They recruited more of their friends as new members. There are many anecdotes of new members attending meetings and seeing someone they recognized. Members met shipmates, classmates and childhood neighbors. They came from all walks of life, social and economic backgrounds, and political perspectives, but in the end they were all simply members of The Sharon Men’s Club. Together they established a framework of activities to keep people interested, and drafted rules and regulations -- some of which have changed, and some of which continue today. This framework helps maintain the central focus, friendship and mutual support.
In the bylaws from December of that year, the goals were simple -- be an exchange for ideas and activities beneficial to the membership’s recreation, education, entertainment. Keeping people active will promote well-being and minimize the sense of loss and loneliness that aging brings. Who are the members, what do they do, how do they communicate? Start with a core of men from Sharon, or formerly from Sharon, then add a sprinkling of members from most of the nearby communities-- Stoughton, Randolph, Canton, Walpole and others, and the result is a membership of 300 -- with a waiting list. Ages range from 60 to 100 years old -- most are retired, and hate to miss a meeting.
What does the SMC do?
The answer is as diverse as the members themselves. With the exception of a period in 2006-2007 when they met at Temple Sinai during a major renovation project, the SMC has been a permanent part of the Community Center.
One of the earliest community-related activities was the formation of the choral group. This is a group of 20-25 club members, wives and girl-friends whose song book consists of tunes from the 30's through the 50’s. In addition to performing for the Club, they perform at nursing homes, VA hospitals, as well as for the Council of Aging
The Club meets weekly, with a speaker at each meeting discussing topics as varied as fire safety, senior health care, selling your home, and movies set in or around Boston, Every week there are coffee and bagels or pastries.
On the first Tuesday of each month, there’s a breakfast get-together where wives,
significant others and friends can relax and enjoy scrambled eggs, bagels, lox, and
for those who really care, tomatoes and onions. No one ever leaves hungry!
The Club sponsors outdoor activities such as golf, bocce and tennis when weather permits, as well as Indoors -- pool, whist, cribbage, investment groups, chess, a
discussion group, and a choral group -- something almost every day during the week. The Club's official communications vehicle is the monthly newsletter. The first editor of the Sharon Men’s Club newsletter was Abe Gamzon. The editor’s mantle was passed onto Harris Cohen. Two years ago the Newsletter was renamed and the Nexus was born. A "nexus" is defined as the center of a network, and the new name represents the spirit of the Sharon Men’s Club, a place for friends to come together, interact and communicate. A true Nexus!!
Why 325 members?
Originally, the only limitation specified was a quorum of 10 members required for a meeting. As the successes of the membership committee continued, the numbers grew beyond 300. Eventually, that number was modified to 300 for Sharon residents plus non-residents, based on fire laws regarding the capacity of the Community Center ballroom, plus limited parking. New members are nominated by current members. Once accepted there is an administration fee that includes a hat, name tag, first year's dues and, most importantly, the secret password!!!!!.
What about trips?
From the very beginning, trips have occupied an important place in club activities. Over the early years trips or visits were scheduled each week. These included tours of a Polaroid plant, The Boston Globe, Southeast Regional High School, Fuller Art Museum Tour, and the U.S. Post Office Distribution Center in Brockton, Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, and tour of Norwood Hospital Cardiology Dept. Other destinations have included Pawtucket Red Sox, Mohegan Sun, Boston Pops performances, Phantom of the Opera performances, trips to Ottawa, New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, Boothbay Harbor, Branson MO, Niagara Falls, Washington, DC. Providence Water Fire, Provincetown Parade, Salem Halloween Trip, Brockton Symphony, Walpole Footlighters, North Shore theater, and many others.
Membership initially was open to any/all residents of Sharon 60 years or older, restricted to residents or former residents of Sharon. Officers were President, Vice President, Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Treasurer, to be elected annually. Meetings, with a quorum of 10 members, were open to residents, former residents, visitors and guests. Committees included Nominating, Audit, Ways and Means (fund-raising), Hospitality, Membership and Program (labeled the “most important committee” with function to provide recreation, education and entertainment.
By 2012, a few things were modified and a new set of by laws were released. The official name was now the Sharon Over 60 Men’s Club (or simply the Sharon Men’s Club). The stated goal now read “create an atmosphere for the exchange of ideas and the adoption of activities which will be beneficial to our membership and to our community.” Membership is now open to all men who are 60 years age or older, reside in Sharon or formerly resided in Sharon. Non-residents are eligible when membership is less than 300 -- this number may be modified by majority vote of the Administrative Committee without bylaw change. Other parts of the new rules -- widows and “significant others” of deceased members eligible to attend all functions at member cost.
Administrative committee membership has been modified to include: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Asst. Treasurer, Secretary, Asst. Secretary, all elected for two-year terms. The President may appoint additional members to the Committee, and shall appoint a representative of Council of Aging to attend meetings (non-voting). Members may attend an Administrative Committee meeting and may request a change in policy, procedure or expenditure (requests may also be made during a regular meeting)
What’s this about a secret password?
Yes, there is a secret password which is revealed when members are voted into the club. We can’t give away the password here (it’s a secret!), but we can give you a clue - - it’s directly related to a newspaper ad congratulating the Boston Red Sox for winning the World Series in 2004. You’ll have to come to a meeting to find out more.