Twenty-five years ago, Sandy Pearson moved into Mission Co-op, St. Andrew’s Place, with her husband, Jim.
“I remember Jim working here at the time as the groundskeeper. We had to wait but then we heard about a spot.”
The co-op has a 55+ requirement for membership, and Jim had turned 55, but Sandy was younger. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him!”
When Sandy and Jim first joined the co-op they were in a one-bedroom unit and put their name on the waitlist for a two-bedroom. About two and a half years later, they got one.
Jim died four years ago and Sandy is back in a one bedroom. “But I love it. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
“It was so friendly! There were dances, Christmas dinner, everybody got together. It was very nice and you all volunteered to do something. I volunteered right away, on the social committee.”
Jim served on the board. “And then Jim decided he was going to start up bottle recycling because too many bottles were being thrown in the garbage. He started collecting the bottles and taking them in and giving the money to the social committee to do things. Now there is a shed dedicated to him.”
The co-op is a well-kept secret. “You know what, I had never heard of this place, even though I lived (in the area) for 20 years,” Sandy says. “We just wanted to get in closer to town.”
“I’ve told people that it is just a like a little community on its own, very comfortable, very manageable.”
Before coming to the co-op, Sandy and Jim had raised their two girls in a mobile home and she cautions anyone downsizing from a house to move into the co-op to cut back on their belongings. “I had never lived in a house so let’s just say I know how to put things away!”
The only hard thing for Sandy now is that a lot of the people she knew when she moved in have gone. And with the COVID pandemic the co-op isn’t holding any functions so it’s harder for her to get to know the newer members.
But they still find ways. “In the summer we would sit outside, a couple of us, and talk with social distancing and all that. I go for walks around here and it is a lovely place. It’s hidden, it really is. I’m on the back side and I’m overlooking Abbotsford, the bridge and the river. No view now but the leaves are coming down fast!”
Sandy Pearson is a 2020 winner of our Century of Co-operation Awards that celebrates long-time co-op members whose age plus their years of living in a co-op community equals 100 years or more.
Photo: Sandy with her late husband Jim.