Commitment and dedication defines a decade of care
By Kristian Partington
On April 10, The Village of Humber Heights celebrated 10 years of service in Etobicoke with an anniversary celebration. The town square was filled with residents, team members, guests and dignitaries who all reflected on a journey that began with Ron Schlegel’s initial push to convert an old school into a long-term care residence that would become the village that stands today.
As Ron addressed the crowd, he wasn’t afraid to admit it wasn’t easy to overcome the opposition that spoke against the concept. Neighbours in the area were reluctant, for some reason, and he recalled one councillor in particular suggesting he should take his ideas back to Kitchener and stay out of Toronto. With persistence and support from people like Donna Cansfield, who at the time was chair of the Toronto District School Board before eventually working her way into a position as minister in the provincial government, the vision for a village for seniors in Etobicoke found footing.
Ten years after opening, the village is a true pillar in the community and the waitlist of more than 800 people who are eager to make their home there speaks to the reputation for quality the village has earned.
That success belongs to the team members, Ron pointed out. More than 90 who were there to help the first residents move in the day the village opened remain today, and 21 of the original residents still call the village home.
“You have the commitment and you have the passion,” Ron told the team members, and with that dedication the community has grown far beyond a simple home for seniors – it is a family.
As Donna Cansfield spoke to the crowd, she recalled the beauty of those relationships, which she witnessed it firsthand between her mother-in-law and the many team members who supported her for three years, including Margaret Mangal.
“I was the family member of someone who had the privilege of staying at Humber Heights,” Donna said. “She was deeply respected, well cared for and loved each and every day by that incredible lady called Margaret, who every time I came in had a smile and had warmth. That kind of care I think goes through each and every one of you,” she said to the team members, “and for that I thank you.”
Doretta Watson was one of the first residents to move into Humber Heights 10 years ago and she was on hand during the celebration with her son, Peter, to mark the anniversary.
“It’s very lovely here,” Doretta said. “We are well cared for and I have been very appreciative.” For Peter, the depth of the relationships he sees between the team and residents provides a great deal of comfort – he knows his mother is safe and content in her home.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Peter said. “The staff are incredible; it really is a family. It’s a calling, I think, to work here . . . and what some of these folks do is just above and beyond the call of duty.”
Though the village is much larger and things continue to evolve within the organization, the positive atmosphere and commitment to residents has always remained constant at Humber Heights. After 10 years, the relationships are simply growing deeper, and that’s certainly worth a celebration.