No Strangers – Just Friends You Haven’t Met Yet
Below is a profile on community centre member Nicolas Lozovsky. This is one segment of a special profile series on our community centre patrons.
Kerrisdale Community Centre member, Nicolas Lozovsky, knows what it’s like to struggle trying to build a life in a new place, with no friends or family close by to lean on. Born in Russia, he and his family were banished to Siberia when he was a child. As refugees, they then went to Iran, Syria and Lebanon. His next and final stop, 45 years ago, was Canada, where he and his family made their home in Vancouver. That was when he found the Kerrisdale Community Centre and it became a big part of his life. He explained: “I brought my children to this centre. We spent so much time here – especially in the library, reading. We have good memories here; we were made to feel welcome.” He added: “This is an important thing to a newcomer!”
Today, a retired architect and involved community member, Nicolas is often seen at the community centre. Along with socializing, he regularly goes to the library and, several times a week, he takes aerobic and Zumba classes and swims. He is often seen at a table full of his friends talking politics and philosophy while enjoying the subsidized seniors’ lunch, which is served daily. (In fact, an estimated 30,000 lunches are served each year at the Kerrisdale Community Centre.)
A tall, fit and charming senior (remember, he does Zumba, aerobics and swims!), Nicolas has a big sense of humour, a larger-than-life personality, and is clearly a teddy bear. He goes out of his way to be warm, welcoming and inclusive to everyone he meets. In his eyes, there are no strangers – just friends he hasn’t met yet.
Nicolas’s positive, inclusive approach to life comes from his experiences as a refugee. He makes others feel at home because that was how he was made to feel when he first came to the Kerrisdale Community Centre. “This is an important place for many of us,” he explained. “We have made many friends here. We have created a social circle of people who matter to us and who check in on us if we aren’t around for a day or two.”
Nicolas believes that the Kerrisdale community is diverse, and that the community centre reflects its neighbourhood with its unique programming and courses. “There are many immigrants who have just moved here, seniors on fixed income, and young families struggling to build a life. The centre provides for all of us, and matches our needs and interests. Everyone who walks through the door finds somewhere to go – a place to feel like they belong.” He added: “The Kerrisdale Community Centre is a place where someone is always going to take the time to have a coffee or lunch with anyone who wants company. We are a true community.”
What Nicolas Wants the Park Board to Know
“I would like the Park Board to really listen to us and not just tell us what they think we need. This is a community centre that runs nicely and serves the community very well. The Park Board needs to respect what we know and what our community wants – and not try to change us.”