FOR the past 15 years as president of his social club, Gaetano Telera's aim has been to keep his members alive.
"We try to keep them moving," he says.
Mr Telera is the president of Circolo Pensionati Italiani di Waverley, which will celebrate its 25th birthday this October.
The club, which is an amalgamation of Italian senior citizens across Monash, started on October 13, 1987. Members get together once a week to eat, take trips and exercise together.
Mr Telera, 80, has been a member of the club for 17 years since he retired as a maintenance fitter in 1995.
"I realised maybe I had too many days free," he says in a soft accent. "So I went there and I saw that the people were all right."
He says the club's goal is to combat the isolation that many pensioners are faced with as they get older. "I know it's not many days, but even one day a week for them is great."
The club has about 65 members who regularly meet at the Ashwood Hall.
They speak a mixture of English, Italian and dialects from their regions and towns in Italy.
For Mr Telera, who left Italy in 1956 when he was 23, being around so many people from home makes him miss the country of his birth.
"But we don't miss much," he says.
"If I go overseas — I'll tell you the truth and it's not only me, it's everyone — the first week is OK. The second week, you dream of Australia.
"I love Australia. It's given me a good life. At the time, Italy was a mess and I like it here. My wife, too. The first day she came here, she said, 'I like it here'. "Yes we are Italian but we're not Italian anymore. You've got that feeling in the heart that you're born there but the majority of years have been passed here."
When he arrived in Australia, he worked on the railroads in Seymour before learning his trade and sponsoring his wife, Maria. He moved to Glen Waverley on Boxing Day in 1962.
"Glen Waverley was nothing really. Kingsway was only four or five little shops — a chemist, a clothing shop for kids, one butcher, one newsagents and one fruit shop and the post office."
At the time, the Italian community in Monash was small but Mr Telera says it's grown. The influx of Italian families to Glen Waverley, Mulgrave and Wheelers Hill also means the club has been a popular social outlet for expats.
"They enjoy it immensely," he says. "We want to help them to be happy."