Lenore and Delores share their insights from Wentworth Heights
By Kristian Partington
Delores Prendergast and Lenore Rowe live in different neighbourhoods in the Village of Wentworth Heights, but they’ve recently come together as friends thanks to the Java Mentorship Program.
During a visit to the village at the beginning of March, I join Lenore and Delores after lunch to talk about the friendship they’ve discovered and why they find the mentorship program so valuable.
“I think we’ve connected very well,” Delores says. “We meet and we talk a lot about what’s going on with her and what’s going on with me and how it all fits into life here.”
Delores says that while life in the village suits her just fine, there are always memories of her younger days – even a longing, perhaps – which other residents can relate to, which is why it’s nice to have someone like Lenore to connect with. Lenore has been part of the Java Music Club, she explains, which is a regularly set, facilitated mutual support group where residents gather and discuss various topics.
Not everyone is able to come to those meetings, however, so the mentorship program is a way of reaching out to those residents. A mentor, such as Lenore, is paired with a volunteer and then the two of them visit with residents who aren’t as likely to leave their neighbourhood for activities.
“Delores is our regular,” Lenore says. “We try to make sure we visit her at least once a week.”
“It’s interesting talking to her,” Delores says. “We talk about life and when I have a meeting and she is there, it feels better for me. We have a lot of connections.”
Candice Follest, the village’s volunteer coordinator, says the program has been a success since it was first introduced last fall. More than 20 mentors and volunteers signed up to be part of the initial launch and that number has since grown. They meet once a week to discuss how to have the greatest impact during their visits and Candice tracks progress carefully so the village and the program’s creator will have verifiable data on its real impact. Anecdotally, however, she sees people like Lenore and Delores meeting regularly and developing meaningful relationships, so in her mind it’s a total win.
“It’s been a huge success, both for the mentors and the people they are visiting,” Candice says.
On the day I visited, Hamilton was hit with a spring blizzard and the visits were cancelled that day, as volunteers from outside weren’t able to make it to the village. People were genuinely disappointed and already looking forward to the next week.
“They wait for those visits,” Candice says. “And it’s been a great opportunity for me to get to know the residents more and to see those relationships form.”
Back with Lenore and Delores, it’s easy to see what Candice is talking about. These two ladies may only have met recently, but they’ve grown close quickly as they’ve shared the stories of their lives together.
“I do like to visit with my friend,” Delores says with a gracious smile and Lenore nods her head.
“I feel the same way,” she says.