A Victoria, B.C. native, Rick Casmey moved to Labrador City, NL in 1963 and spent most of his career working in the mining industry. Casmey is married with three daughters, two of whom live in the same city while the other is 2,000 km away. And even though he retired more than 15 years ago, he’s still active in his community. 

Casmey has been on the executive team of the Newfoundland and Labrador Curling Association since 1983 and is currently the Northern Zone director. Over the years, he’s attended 22 Briers across Canada and sees them as a great way to explore the country. 

“It’s what I do in the winter, “ says Casmey. “Now I’m just waiting for the snow to go away before I start golfing.”

From hurrying hard to a slower pace

Last spring, his daughter Samantha Casmey, manager of adult health and fitness programs at the YMCA of Greater Toronto, reached out and told him about a new programming initiative designed to support older adults during the pandemic. That’s how he got started volunteering for The Bright Spot.

He initially signed up to attend a Tuesday trivia night in June 2020 and immediately got hooked. Before he knew it, he had volunteered to host one of his own on Thursdays. What struck him most over the first few months is how much it helped people connect with one another and build a sense of community.

“Suddenly, they didn’t feel so isolated,” says Casmey. “It’s eye-opening how much looser people become. Now that this is part of their weekly routine, they’re getting the support and interaction they need.”

Growing a community

The sessions started small but have grown in size over the past year. Now, 15 to 20 people show up each week and the sessions have turned into a larger platform for group discussions. For example, Casmey might follow up on a travel-related question, asking participants about the places they’ve visited and the experiences they’ve had. 

Attendees end up sharing parts of their lives that they haven’t talked about for years. Even though the question portion of the trivia only lasts for 20 minutes, the whole session runs over an hour with sprawling conversations from those in attendance. 

A family affair

Casmey’s favourite part about volunteering with The Bright Spot is interacting with different people and the conversations they have. 

“Making connections is a wonderful thing,” says Casmey. “After a while they almost act like extended family that you see on a regular basis. We all bring a lot of brightness into each other’s lives.”

While participants may feel like family, his real offspring are part of the mix, too. Casmey’s granddaughter, a student at Queen’s University, joins the sessions with her roommates. The same goes for his daughters and in-laws at home. But they’re not just limited to activities Rick Casmey hosts. They’re also exploring the other activities that The Bright Spot offers.

Connecting on a deeper level

It’s tough to say how long it’ll be before participants are able to attend a trivia session in person, but Casmey sees The Bright Spot model as something that will keep growing. Even though he’s hosting activities in Labrador City, he’s able to connect with people thousands of kilometers away. 

When asked why he’s committed to giving so much of his free time volunteering, Casmey says that it goes deeper than supporting his curling community or bringing people together through trivia.

“For most people, volunteering sets a purpose and helps you grow,” says Casmey. “You’re doing something that’s important to you. Giving back and not just taking. After I finish something like trivia, I feel pretty good. They do, too.”

If you’re interested in joining a future trivia night or wonder if one of the dozens of other classes The Bright Spot offers are right for you, visit our activities page and get the answers you’re looking for.