Schlegel Villages founder shares insights on recent village events
Ron Schlegel recalls life in the nursing home his family owned back when he was a boy in Grade 5. They lived in an apartment attached to the home, and he can picture himself rushing there after school to help with meals, and later chatting with residents as he played chess with them or studied in their rooms.
Nearly 60 years later, his relationship with elders continues to be a central part of his life as Schlegel Villages’ founder and chair of the board of directors. As he reflects on recent events residents and team members experienced together, he says he couldn’t be happier with the direction the organization is headed.
Ron had the opportunity to visit the villages of Sandalwood Park and Glendale Crossing recently during the Schlegel Olympics, which drew residents together in the sprit of friendly competition.
He flashed back to his youth as he saw the fun team members and residents shared, recalling field days at school filled with laughter as he competed against other children in a series of games and events.
At the Schlegel Olympics, that same joyful feeling was in the air.
“Residents were extremely enthused and highly motivated, just like you would see, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative sense; they were like young kids again in the school grounds,” Ron tells the Village Voice.
“When the medal winners were being announced, the way they rallied behind their fellow competitors, it was just exciting to watch. It proves that that spirit never leaves a person.”
To see elders honoured through the efforts of team members, volunteers and the residents themselves is the greatest return on a lifelong commitment Ron can imagine.
“My reward is watching these people, the smiles on their faces and their exuberance and the way their quality of life continues and their spirits continue to grow,” he says.
“Even though maybe the physical is becoming more frail, the spirit can continue to grow to the very last breath, so it just inspires me when I see these seniors having such a great time, and that’s my return on investment.”
As his 70th birthday approaches, Ron reaffirms the commitment to his family’s vision for elder care, which continues to spread through the expansion of existing villages and construction of new ones.
“My bottom line is the joy on people’s faces,” he says.
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