Since retiring from her career as a nurse, Elaine Kilpatrick is busier than ever pursuing passions she never had time for while working, teaching fitness classes and raising a family. After retirement, it was important for Elaine to find a new focus to stay involved in her community, while continuing to pursue her interests. Now, she teaches aqua fit classes, travels, makes time to enjoy her four grandchildren, and volunteers with countless organizations.
“I love volunteering because I have contact with so many people with whom I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet otherwise; I feel I am giving back to my community,” she says. “Volunteering enriches my life because I get to enjoy activities that I may not have had time for when I was working and raising my family.”
Elaine chooses her volunteer activities based on her passions and interests, saying, “don’t do it if it’s not fun.” Her passion for performing and fashion have led her to get involved with Heritage Model Productions. This company produces heritage fashion shows for senior residences and custom events. The production company’s goal is to tell historical stories, igniting memories among the seniors, and bringing entertainment and joy to their audiences. Elaine says some of the company members are phenomenal dancers and they even have a pianist who performs at each show.
Roughly 30 models work with the company tirelessly to produce at least one show per week, as well as participating in parades and customized events. Company members take turns with modelling and hosting duties. Elaine particularly enjoys hosting and says the most important thing is to make the models feel beautiful, exemplifying her generous spirit.
To indulge her love of the performing arts, Elaine volunteers as an usher for productions at the Mary Winspear Centre Theatre, and works in costume rentals at the Langham Court Theatre.
Her lifelong career in nursing also provides her motivation for choosing volunteer projects.
“My vocation in nursing fostered a desire to support and help out in my community,” she says. “I continue to gravitate to the hospital setting. I am a member of the SPH Auxiliary craft group, and we raise a lot of funds to buy new equipment for the hospital. My motivation to be involved is to support efforts to keep this hospital in my community.”
She also works as a leader for the Diabetes Society’s walk and talk program, as well as its Take Down the Pressure blood pressure monitoring program.
Elaine’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. On the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Elaine was honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal. This award was given to individuals who have given service to their communities through volunteerism throughout their life.
Elaine’s community-mindedness doesn’t end with volunteering; she also has a passion for fitness. Her personal fitness is a high priority. Each day starts with an hour walk and she enjoys biking to stay fit. Her favourite way to stay active is working as an aqua exercise instructor at the Commonwealth Pool in Victoria. She teaches two hour-long classes per week: Water Walking and Stretch and Strength.
During Water Walking, Elaine incorporates her love of dance by using dance steps and setting the class to music. This is an upbeat class filled with lots of fun! By contrast, Stretch and Strength is a little slower paced and uses equipment to strengthen muscles.
Fitness in the water is a great way to avoid strain on joints and muscles and allows participants to rehab injuries. No matter one’s ability, classes can help improve cognitive abilities and foster social interaction through meeting new people.
Despite Elaine’s commitment to her community, she still enjoys travelling and spending time with her three children and four grandchildren. She hopes her lifestyle inspires them to stay active, as well.
“I guess it is the social contact with people and the energy it gives me that inspires me to keep active.”
Elaine’s advice for others looking to get active in their community is to try different things, see where your interests lie, and “go for it!”
“It’s not only the physical benefit you’ll experience, but the social interaction will help relieve depression that comes from isolation,” she says.
Getting involved in your community can boost your quality of life since you get out of life as much as you put in!