Local men are encouraged to dust off their tool boxes and get involved with the newly created Grand Traverse Men's Shed Association. The Men's Shed is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing a "warm and welcoming" clubhouse where older residents and retirees can gather and socialize, enjoy a cup of coffee, and access tools and other equipment to work on community-oriented projects.
The Men's Shed movement started in Australia in the 1990's and has grown to over 2000 sheds worldwide with at least a dozen in development across the United States. The Grand Traverse Men's Shed is the first such group to launch in Michigan.
The driving force behind the local organization is Jim Novak, who explains that the entirely volunteer-run group aims to "help men connect with other men for fellowship, support and acceptance, and that all-important sense of purpose" by providing "a familiar setting. For many men, work provides an enormous sense of identity and purpose. Once retired, a lot of guys feel they have nothing to offer. They get bored, start to neglect themselves and stop actively participating in life around them. Becoming a member of Men's Shed provides a safe and busy environment where one can find meaningful activities in an atmosphere of old-fashioned friendship. And, importantly, there is no pressure. You can simply come and have a chat over coffee if that's all you are looking for."
The Men's Shed provides a neighborhood clubhouse/workshop where members can hang out, learn new skills, and participate in group activities. After launching in June, Grand Traverse Men's Shed members had their first outing as volunteers at the National Cherry Festival, assisting with traffic control for all three festival parades. The group also hand-built forty activity boards, using supplies donated by local businesses, for dementia patients at Munson Hospice House and Cherry Hill Haven. Socially, the group has gotten together for a Beach Bums game and has held its first Card Night.
School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD, Australia
There is some evidence that shedders in this study may have gained social health and wellbeing benefits through participating in the Men's Shed. This Men's Shed appears to be unique to other community-based clubs in the type and quality of social activity it provided for men. Benefits of Men's Shed attributed to health and welling included fellowship, sense of belonging and comfort, relaxed and non-hierarchical structure where members do not have to commit to being a part of a formal structure, having access to equipment, and learning new and sharing their own skills. The Men's Shed is seen as a place for and about members – men, which has the potential to contribute to improving health and wellbeing outcomes for men. There is also opportunity for further investigation into the potential of the Men's Shed as a health promoting setting in contributing to the health and wellbeing of shedders."
~ Wiley Health Promotions newsletter, January 2017