In the final days of a year, as the buzz of Christmas quiets for a moment in anticipation of New Year’s celebrations, it’s always humbling to sit and quietly reflect on the past 12 months. From my vantage as the Schlegel Villages Village Voice writer, I have the great luxury of floating in and out of the villages to capture small glimpses of the magic that happens each day in neighbourhoods throughout the organization. Hundreds upon hundreds of team members, residents, family members, volunteers and community partners see these moments in action constantly, and I’m blessed to help capture but a few of them.
A few stand out as I let my mind float through the many highlights of 2017. The first is the conversation I had with University Gates resident Phil Fiess following his breathtaking musical performance at the Pursuit of Passions event in June alongside recreation team member Tiffany Van Someren. Despite the physical challenges he navigates every day in the face of progressing Parkinson’s disease, Phil proved that anything is possible; the hundreds of other residents showcasing their passions at the event hammered that point home with force.
I also look back to meeting Carl Woodworth, whose health had taken a serious turn for the worse when he’d first moved into Riverside Glen. He was deemed palliative not long after and yet the team in the village, particularly PSWs Jen Thompsen and Mandi McEwan, never gave up on him and he credited their devotion as a major factor in his amazing recovery.
It was a similar story when I met Moises and Maria Oliveira at Sandalwood Park. Moises was told his wife would not live long after complications from a brain hemorrhage put her into palliative care. When I met them, however, they were chatting away and laughing as they’d done together for decades; Moises told me this miracle was only made possible because of Sandalwood Park.
“If you put the whole world beside my wife, the whole world means nothing,” he told me. “To know how much I love, it’s like the universe. She means everything.”
The gratitude I saw in his eyes will stay with me forever.
The highlights from 2017 are far too many to capture in this short reflection: the innovation summit; the fellowship of the leadership retreat and operational planning; the Golf Tournament in support of the Hand up For Haiti campaign. There was the time resident Vicki St. Amand told me music therapy brought her back from the darkest period of her life, or the time Rob Droulliard spoke about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The highlights are as varied as the people and stories that created them, but the common theme bound in each can be found in the relationships that make life within Schlegel Villages so special. It’s a gift all Villagers share with one another, and something I count myself as fortunate to be a part of.