One of the most common refrains during the holiday season is that love of family and friends is the most cherished of gifts. This certainly rings true within Schlegel Villages, which in every way is an extension of the family that founded the organization and has welcomed thousands of residents, team members, volunteers and their extended families into its villages, which now number 19.
As the days grow shorter and colder and the sights and sounds of the season spread through communities large and small, the villages seem to grow even more vibrant. Christmas bazaars are the first real hint of the approaching season; all year the villages prepare for these massive events, with residents and volunteers designing and creating items to sell in bustling markets that fill every Main Street. The proceeds are poured back into each respective village, funding expanded programs and events for residents. This is the prime example of neighbours within a tight-knit community working for the benefit of others, and it exemplifies the finest of the Christmas and holiday spirit.
When the markets quiet down, preparations begin for the feasts. There is perhaps no better way to enjoy time with loved ones than over fine food and drink, and the villages go all out during this time of year. At Tansley Woods, for example, hundreds gathered together in the Town Square for the retirement neighbourhood’s festive feast on Dec. 14, served once again by senior cubs and scouts of the 1st Port Nelson Scouts. The day before, team members and volunteers welcomed long-term care residents and their loved ones for a different event, filled again with the bounty of the season prepared by the loving hands of the hospitality team.
“Congratulations to all involved in making this amazing night so memorable for our parents and family,” wrote Brenda Dougall the day following the dinner. “We are truly grateful for the incredible care and love that they receive at Tansley Woods. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
In various ways, from large sit-down dinners to intimate cocktail and appetizer socials, each village brings people together over the food, drink and merriment, and the sentiment Brenda offered is shared by so many others.
Perhaps one of the most wonderful ways the villages show their sense of community this time of year is the way residents and team members choose to give of themselves to others. This happens in many ways, spreading generosity to neighbours far and near.
Every year since the Village of Glendale Crossing opened, for example, residents and team members have organized a food drive in support of the London Food Bank and this year was no exception. At Humber Heights, a knitting circle makes items specifically in support of their local community. The group raised more than $900, which was used to buy gifts for children in need. The money also supported the Daily Food Bank and funded 80 meals for the Scott Mission, which supports some of Toronto’s most vulnerable people.
Schlegel Villages was founded with community in mind, with each village becoming a home where residents live their life to the fullest while having plenty of opportunity to enhance the lives of those around them. As the blessings of the season are counted, it’s nice to reflect on the many ways this mission unfolds every day.