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An interview with Park City Men’s Shed organizer Fred Bobrowski


Targeting Isolation asked Fred Bobrowski about the Park City Men’s Shed program. Here is what Fred had to say…


--> Men’s Sheds were developed as a way to get men involved in community and improve their physical and mental health through activities, learning, and shared interests.


--> Park City Men's Shed meets at the Elmwood Active Living Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was set up by Fred Bobrowski and others in 2018.


"The toughest thing for a lot of people is...getting involved. Walking into a room where you don’t know anybody can be very difficult."

Targeting Isolation in Manitoba (TIMA): Please introduce yourself and tell me about the Men’s Shed program you run.


Fred Bobrowski, Men’s Shed Park City: My name is Fred Bobrowski and I started the Park City Men’s Shed which is located in Elmwood, Winnipeg. We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 3pm at the Elmwood (East Kildonan) Active Living Center. Our Men’s Shed is fairly informal when it comes to programming but men can come in and do activities like make diamond willow walking sticks, canes, and cottonwood bark carvings, play cards, or just come socialize.


Men’s Shed is a bottom-up (grassroots) organization, so we don’t need a lot of structure. The men themselves decide what they want to do and, in the past, we have brought in speakers for educational purposes. Last summer we had one of the registered dieticians from Sobeys come in and teach the men some cooking skills. Other organization or groups, like the Red River Nurses, have come in and provided health checks to the members of other Sheds. So, you get an exchange of information in many different ways in any Shed.


The toughest thing for a lot of people is coming out for the first time and getting involved. Walking into a room where you don’t know anybody can be very difficult. So, I want people to know that we are very accepting and non-judgmental and we just want men to come out and have a good time.


TIMA: How did you become involved in the Men’s Shed?


"I knew there was a need for many men, especially retired men, to be more active.... Myself and a few other men decided to start the process of setting up a Men’s Shed. We ended up successfully setting up the Men’s Shed in Elmwood back in March of 2018...."

Fred Bobrowski, Men’s Shed Park City: It started about six years ago when Doug Mackie (who started Men’s Sheds in Canada) came and did a presentation for the Transcona Council of Seniors and he talked to our Resource Coordinator about Men’s Sheds. I knew there was a need for many men, especially retired men, to be more active. So, Doug really hit a nerve for me with his presentation.


Myself and a few other men decided to start the process of setting up a Men’s Shed. We ended up successfully setting up the Men’s Shed in Elmwood back in March of 2018. In our Shed we have 18 members currently, but I know of another Shed in Winnipeg that has close to 100 members. There are several other sheds in Winnipeg with fewer members also meeting.


TIMA: If someone were to chat with you over a coffee, what would you want them to know about Men’s Sheds? 


"Ultimately, older men are valued members of the community! We need to keep them active, thriving, and healthy."

Fred Bobrowski, Men’s Shed Park City: I’ve been fortunate to be active all my life, whether it be through sports, at work, or volunteering. I have heard lots of stories about men not having a lot to do, especially after they retire. The Men’s Shed can be a tough sell and lots of men think they don’t need it, even when they do. There are a lot of men reluctant to join, so it is challenging to recruit members.


Ultimately, older men are valued members of the community! We need to keep them active, thriving, and healthy. For example, one of our members has early onset Alzheimer’s and I would pick him up and drive him to the Shed because it was good for him to get out, socialize, and do an activity. There is also a big benefit to his wife, who is his prime caregiver.


TIMA: What do you believe is a top way older adults can get involved within their community?


Fred Bobrowski, Men’s Shed Park City: For me, the number one way to get involved is through volunteering and meeting new people. Try volunteering for an organization you find some interest in. Get out and give a little bit of yourself to the community! Try something new, if it doesn’t work out then try something else. Get out of your comfort zone. Volunteering will keep you active, both physically and mentally and will provide you with the opportunity to connect with new people and learn new skills.


TIMA: Is there anything else you would like to add?


Fred Bobrowski, Men’s Shed Park City: In total, Manitoba has 13 Men’s Sheds. To learn more about the Men’s Sheds near you, please visit https://www.mensshedscanada.ca/ShedsAndActivities/FindYourMensShed/

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