In May of 2014, Arnold Amonson and Bill Stad stood by the 11th Street site where new seniors housing is being built. (Houston Today file photo)

In May of 2014, Arnold Amonson and Bill Stad stood by the 11th Street site where new seniors housing is being built. (Houston Today file photo)

Veteran volunteer retires from housing society

It wasn’t just another annual general meeting when members of the Houston Retirement Housing Society gathered March 14.

It also officially marked the end of Arnold Amonson’s long-standing term as society president and board member.

On the verge of turning 89, Amonson is also the last original board member dating back to the society’s creation in 2000.

A director at first, Amonson assumed the role of president in approximately 2003 but it was just late last year that he needed to step back because of health reasons.

He describes the philosophical foundation of the society’s formation as one of independence.

“We had members of the board who had concerns that if went with assisted living or with acute [care] living, the government would then have to run it. So we then decided to go with residential [living] only,” he said.

That independence continued past the first six-plex built in 2005, then the second one and into the third one and now into the fourth six-plex which is nearing completion.

Although the society raised money by itself in its first years, it was through the donation of five acres 11th by the Groot Brothers that provided the property for what is now called the Pleasant Valley Village.

“We had raised $200,000 … a new car raffle, donations and other means,” said Amonson. “But with the land donation, we were then able to spend the money on water, sewer, power.”

He credits the generosity of area businesses, community groups and individuals over the years in providing donations and inkind goods and services.

He particularly noted all the volunteer time that went into the construction of the housing units in that the many hours worked at no charge helped keep costs down.

The need for the six-plexes is as great now as it was when the society’s first one opened its doors, Amonson said in adding there are not a lot of housing options for seniors.

“For seniors, the other options are mostly apartments,” he said.

What makes these units so attractive is the common area within each six-plex where residents can gather for refreshments, play games and just socialize.

“That’s what makes them really attractive. You just have to down the hall to meet your friends,” he said.

Society treasurer Shannon Clarke noted Amonson’s involvement and dedication to the society.

“He’s the last original director. It’s quite a milestone,” she said.

Amonson spent his working career with the provincial forest service, coming to Houston from Prince Rupert in 1980, retiring in 1988 at the age of 55.

He may have retired from working but not from the community because in addition to Pleasant Valley Village, he’s helped with the local seniors association and its building, BC Seniors Games, United Church construction and served on the District of Houston council and on the board of the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce.