Reflections and hope
Main Street in The Village of Wentworth Heights was abuzz with activity on March 12, 2020 as the Village celebrated the artwork of a talented retirement home resident.
Guests mingled and viewed the various paintings of landscapes and seascapes; there were speeches, refreshment and food, and the vibrancy of Village life was visceral. All was as it should be in the 19 Villages within the Schlegel family, though we knew a virus was having a devastating impact in other parts of the world and we were preparing.
Just five short days later, under a provincially-declared state-of-emergency and the threat of COVID-19, our Villages were transformed. Team members, residents, families, and community partners struggled to find footing under storms of new regulations, separation and the reality of pandemic not seen in more than a century in a world where information, both factual and less trustworthy, flows in fractions of seconds.
No Village has been untouched in the past year. Some have faced the devastation of loss as residents succumbed to illness despite the greatest of efforts, while others have been spared the acute pain of direct grief. They have not been spared the mourning, however, for to care so deeply for others is to know empathy in every breath. When team members fell ill, their entire Village felt the worry. When the media amplified the anger directed towards long-term care and retirement providers struggling under the weight of outbreak, our team members dried their own tears and came back to the Village. Many worked countless consecutive days, filling the needs left by team members unable to work with their own diagnosis or the worry they felt for their own vulnerable loved ones.
And yet there was beauty and hope in the darkest of days. Team members answered needs in other Villages, leaving their homes and loved ones in support of others. Countless gifts flowed to teams in the Villages and messages of support were louder than the voices of blame. Hope was found is the vials of vaccines that found purchase in the soft upper arms of team members and residents as a year of pandemic closed in, and deepening partnerships with healthcare providers proved that no Village or community is an island.
We were reminded that relationships are the foundation of a meaningful life and the value of a warm embrace cannot be matched.
After a year under COVID-19, we reflect on the struggle and the beauty, and we look to the future with hope.