By Maya Patel
Laurel Senior Friendship Club (LSFC), which was founded in 1966, provides opportunities for those 50 years and older to meet other seniors and share the growing-old experience.
“Seniors may become lonely when they retire, especially if family members aren’t close or they lose a spouse, so we encourage them to keep active, not only with our club but also utilizing the wonderful Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center,” said Gail Johnson, 72, LSFC president.
The group meets monthly to share information and news, and members often join in an activity — Carol Leong held a hula dancing lesson at the November meeting. Members also attend educational programs, participate in recreational activities and attend various trips to places like Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, and destinations like Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Laurel Senior Friendship Club also partnered with the All Together for Laurel/Beltsville Area Seniors group to help build the center where they meet monthly, along with Prince George’s County Council member Tom Dernoga. Together, they were able to raise money for construction of the center.
LFSC had more than 100 members prior to the pandemic, but membership has dropped to 73. Johnson attributed this decline to people’s ongoing concerns about COVID-19.
“People are slowly coming back,” she said. “ “We are looking for more people to come in.”
While Johnson joined 12 years ago to travel, she found herself devoting additional time and energy to the LSFC and has been the group’s president for seven years. She organizes events and hosts monthly meetings, which are held at the Laurel/Beltsville Senior Center.
Janice Baker, 75, has been an LSFC member for almost six months. Originally from New Mexico, she moved to the Washington D.C. area to be closer to her son. Baker found the club through Johnson.
“I didn’t know anyone,” she said.”Now I am expanding and getting to know more people.”
Baker, like many others in the club, found a vibrant community through the LFSC. The organization gives senior citizens opportunities to meet others and stay active, which can be hard to do as a retiree, Baker noted.
The club meets on the second Wednesday of every month and hosts bingo weekly, on Tuesdays, at the Laurel/Beltsville Senior Activity Center; the games are open to everyone. Membership is $15 annually, and members over 88 may join for free.
For more information, call 301.206.3380
In the January 2023 issue of The Laurel Independent, the article “Making friends in the golden years” incorrectly stated the number of years Gail Johnson was president and how many members the club has. Johnson is serving her second year as president; the club has more than 200 members, 92 of whom attended its December meeting.