Offering something for nothing
A senior in her 80s with the urge to help others

Glen Vienneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jun 16/00) - As lunch hour approaches at the Baker Centre a familiar lady awaits the streaming crowd at the door.

Prakash Chugh, 80, has been volunteering at the centre for two years.

"I like the Baker Centre, people are good," she said about her reason for giving up her Friday afternoons for the centre's Lunch with a Bunch program, organized by the Yellowknife Seniors Society.

"Sometimes we set tables and I collect admission (at the door)," Chugh says, adding it's a job she does for personal satisfaction more than anything else.

Chugh started volunteering her time two years ago after moving here from Manitoba.

Originally from India, Chugh says she had originally shown up at the Baker Centre to take part in the exercise program on Mondays and Fridays, as well as the Wednesday senior bowling, when she realized they could use some help with the Friday lunches.

"Because at home there is nothing, I get enough activities here," she says.

Her love for the centre and her love for people is what attracted her to volunteer her time, she adds.

For the $2 each diner is charged for admission, about 70 to 80 seniors feast on an affordable meal consisting of various meats, soups, a salad and different types of deserts.

Sometimes, seniors will also be treated with a barbecue.

Her children, Renuka Verma and Pawan Chugh, also take pleasure in seeing their mother going out to meet people, she said.

"They like for me to go everywhere," she says.

"I have a lot of friends."

And being a friend to others is also important for Chugh, who is always willing to lend an ear when seniors come to the centre.

Her involvement with the centre does not end with the Friday lunches and keeping others good company.

She also find other ways to keep busy. Last July, for example, she helped decorate the seniors' Canada Day float.

"I like to do something here. I help in any activity," she says.