This article originally appeared in The Time of Your Life special section, Spring 2016.
The 25th annual Older Americans Conference is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 at the Elks Lodge (4131 Pine Road NE, Bremerton). Is is free and open to the public.
OK. So you’re a 55-or-older “senior” and you’ve landed in a place where you don’t know anyone, or you just want to create a new set of friends.
You’re not a church-goer and you feel you’re too young for the community senior centers or the “Red Hat” society. Here’s a handful of suggestions of places, events, and activities where you might find new friends, and maybe even find that special person to spend time with.
• Join a quilting group, or a sewing class. There’s the Kitsap Quilters at www.kitsapquilters.com. They meet at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month in Poulsbo and beginners are welcome. For sewing and craft classes, give JoAnn’s a try. Located at 2886 NW Bucklin Hill Road in Silverdale, classes are posted at the store and can be found online, or call 360-692-1300.
• Sign up to become a Master Gardener. Through the Washington State University Extension Service and Kitsap County, there’s the opportunity to learn all you need to know to garden beautifully while helping the environment. Just go to www.ext100.wsu.edu/kitsap/gardening/master-gardeners/become-a-master-gardener/ and read about the classes and seminars that are available.
• Attend a wine tasting. With wine tasting rooms in every part of the county, this is the perfect place to drop in and meet new people. Eagle Harbor Wine Co. on Bainbridge Island at 278 Winslow Way E, is a popular one. Call 206-842-4669 or go to their website at www.ehwineco.com. Or try Olalla Valley Vineyard & Winery, 13176 Olalla Valley Road SE, Olalla, call 253-851-4949. Website: www.olallavalleyvineyard.com.
• Combined the artist within you and your love of wine and try a “Tile and Taste” evening at Kitsap Mosaics at 18827 Front St. in Poulsbo. Create a fun set of coasters, picture frame or choose from other select items, while enjoying a glass of wine and appetizers, every Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost $40. Call 206-422-0787 or 360-930-0741.
•But if that’s not quite your style of art, several local bookstores, including Eagle Bay Books on Bainbridge (www.eaglebaybooks.com) and Liberty Bay Books (www.libertybaybooks.com) in Poulsbo have sponsored adult coloring nights where wine is sometimes offered.
Liberty Bay Books calls it “Coloring and Cocktails” and it’s offered at both Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo and Bremerton. Speaking of which, joining a book club is just one other way to meet people. Check with your local library or bookstore to connect to a group.
• Go hear music at a community concert. During the summer, there’s plenty to choose from with concerts at the waterfront gazebo in Port Orchard, on the waterfront in Bremerton and in the parks on Bainbridge Island and in Poulsbo. Check the parks department websites for specifics.
• Join an outdoor group and go hiking or learn to fish. Olympic Outfitters is a place to go to learn about fly fishing. See more at www.peninsulaoutfitters.com/product-category/fly-fishing-classes/. If you’ve never been in a kayak and want to try, check out the classes offered at Olympic Outdoor, www.olympicoutdoorcenter.com. There’s also standup paddle boards to try. For those who want a hike try the Kitsap Outdoors group on MeetUp.com. The Kitsap Outdoors Meetup Group is an outdoors group dedicated to bringing introductory hikes, snow travel, camping, backpacking, and biking to the citizens of Kitsap County. Starting where the Clear Creek Trail leaves off, they know area parks, the Olympics and Mount Rainier. Go to www.meetup.com/Kitsap-Outdoors/ for more. And there’s the North Kitsap Trails association at www.northkitsaptrails.org, where you can work outdoors and help keep up local trails.
• Sign up for an adult education class with your local park department or at Olympic College. If you’re really committed, check out the culinary program at Olympic College.
• Try bingo or bunco or trivia night at a local pub. There’s a schedule of pub trivia events throughout the county in Kitsap Weekly each Friday. A local group, called the Bunco Divas love playing Bunco, drinking responsibly, bringing a variety of food and beverage, having fun conversation, enjoying a wonderful host who prepares a delightful event and the social aspect of being able to just have fun for one night a month.
Find them at www.meetup.com/The-Bunco-Divas. For bingo, all the local casinos offer it and there’s the ARC Bingo at 3243 Perry Ave. in Bremerton. Call 360-377-5074 for hours and more information.
• Sign up for a cooking class. There’s always cooking demonstrations at Central Market in Poulsbo, and Town & Country on Bainbridge Island. Or try Heyday Farm on Bainbridge Island. Find more at www.haydayfarm.com. A recent class was Bolognese and Barolo, a class on pasta sauce making with a meal that followed.
• Try Kitsap Computing Seniors at www.kitsapcomputingseniors.org. This group is a place where you can go to get your techie questions answered while meeting others. The group meets at Sheridan Park Community Center, 680 Lebo Blvd., Bremerton.
• Volunteer at a nonprofit you support. There’s the Kitsap Humane Society shelter for the animal lover in you, Habitat for Humanity if you’re more of a builder-type, and there’s always a need for more hands at all the local food banks. To find out more about local nonprofits go to www.kitsapgreatgive.org.
•And the Kitsap County website has a list of volunteer opportunities and county boards that have vacancies at www.kitsapgov.com/volunteer/default.htm. Another option are the local schools. Many of the elementary schools have a “Grandparent” program where you will be matched to a student and meet to read or do other projects.
• If you want to start online, try www.meetup.com and look for the Kitsap Singles group or the Peninsula Boomer Zoomers group.
Kitsap Singles is for any age person and it’s purpose is to get out and do things, not necessarily find someone to date. Their schedule is filled with things like Happy Hour at the Boat Shed in Bremerton, Trivia Time at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse, Hike 4 Miles, and even a weekend white water rafting trip.
They also offer “Rock and Bowl” in Silverdale.
• The Peninsula Boomer Zoomers is a singles activity group for ages 50 and above on the Kitsap Peninsula. Members come from Gig Harbor to Port Angeles and all points in between. The goal is to get out and play. Activities include dinner, movies, hiking, camping, traveling, parties, playing cards, dancing, bike riding, wine tasting, museums, bowling, mini golf, rafting, kayaking, boating, coffee, plays, outdoor concerts and indoor concerts.