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Club offers meal, friendship

April 06, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - Where can you go these days to hang out with friends, learn some new things and eat a satisfying meal for just $1?

At the Sunshine Leisure Club meetings in Smithsburg, you get all that and a helping of jokes thrown in for free.

The group of about 30 members has been meeting once a month since 1972 and most members agreed they wouldn't miss it for the world.


"It started out as a social club. We took bus trips and things like that," said Jean Hierstetter, current secretary of the group. But, she said, the mission changed as the years marched by and the membership began aging.

Now the group, for the most part, meets and socializes. There is a meal, a business meeting and sometimes there is a program or a speaker.

The current format is a luncheon meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church on Main Street on the third Monday of each month beginning at about 11:30 a.m.

The March meeting featured sandwiches and cherry pie from the bakery of the Smithsburg Market. There was supposed to be homemade chicken corn soup but that didn't pan out, much to the disappointment of the members.

Club President Larry Hierstetter welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. He led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and giving thanks for "our health and ability to get together."

Martha Fleming of Smithsburg was there with her sister, Elizabeth Wolfe.

"These are lovely people," Fleming said, estimating they had attended about three times. "The first time we came was for a picnic in Leitersburg."

For the past 15 years, Pete and Gloria Gill have been meeting with the club, thanks to a suggestion by a friend.

"It's good company and they also have good programs," Gloria Gill said.

Sometimes, the group meets for breakfast instead of the traditional luncheon. The members also share holiday events.

"My mother belonged and then my wife and I joined," said Lee Finfrock. "After my wife died, I kept coming - I have friends here."

Finfrock gave a report on upcoming events during the business portion of the meeting.

"We send birthday cards to members and try to stay in touch between meetings," Jean Hierstetter said.

At that point, the March birthday cards were handed out.

She then read the minutes, which included information about several Washington County Commission on Aging programs, the upcoming senior fair and a planned event to help seniors with their tax preparations.

It was announced that the April 18 luncheon meeting would feature Hagerstown attorney Michael Day, who is to present a retirement planning program, Larry Hierstetter said.

He inquired if there was any old business, and then he asked if there was any new business. Both questions were met with silence.

"That's another reason why we like this club - there isn't much of either old or new business," Larry Hierstetter said.

As the meeting came to a close and the last piece of cherry pie had been downed, the real thrust of the meeting became apparent.

One by one, the members raised their hands indicating they had something to share.

Merle Barlup read a list of things to be thankful for, Pat Baer shared several inspirational stories and Cas Dlugosz offered a funny story about youth and age and then told a couple of jokes.

Margaret Schlimme was there at the start 33 years ago. She recalled one of her first activities was a trip to Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

"There were a lot more activities back then when we used to meet at the Methodist church," she said. "Then we'd have a program or a trip each time."

Now the emphasis seems to be on the "leisure" in the club's name.

For more information, call 301-824-7193.

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