The Kind and Humble Spirit of Polly Brown

It’s not so much volunteering for Wentworth Heights resident, just living well

By Kristian Partington

Polly Brown is a modest, humble sort of soul, more likely to shrug off praise and send it elsewhere than she is to accept it. Yet for the residents and team members at the Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton, she epitomizes the type of hands-on resident who, through her giving nature, makes the home a better place to live and work for all.   

Polly standing next to a tall, green plant
Time in the Greenhouse is just one of many activities
that keeps Polly Brown busy at Wentworth Heights.

While sitting along Main Street chatting, I ask Polly about her volunteerism throughout the village and she manages to spin the conversation, instead talking about how grateful she was for the work team members did to help make her surprise birthday party a roaring success.  

Friends and family had come from as far away as England to ring in her 90th year, and Polly was stunned, she says. That’s the type of lady she is, I can see. People want to go out of their way to show her how much she means to them, and it still surprises her when they do.

“Polly is just one of those residents who is always there to help,” says volunteer coordinator Candice Follest. She helps organize the mutual support meetings known as the Java Music Club, and she arranges the flowers that are always spread out throughout the village, just because she loves to do it.

“I don’t want to say that’s volunteering, because for her, that’s just a part of living,” Candice notes. “That’s what she did prior to coming here, because she loves to garden so that’s what she does.”

She’s also an ambassador for the village, Candice points out, and she is often a featured speaker when the village is invited to present at McMaster University or Mohawk College about life in long-term care and the positive changes underway in the sector. I think of this role as I glance at the nametag on her lapel indicating ‘marketing’ as her department. She can be counted on to welcome new guests and answer any questions that might arise among prospective residents, offering a warm smile to calm uneasy minds.

Polly remains humble as we talk about her role in village life while sitting along Main Street. She loves doing the flowers, she says, “because maybe it might brighten somebody’s day.” Welcoming people? Well, that is just a natural thing to do, and The Java Music Club, she helps with that because she’s a deep believer in the positive effect it has on those who participate in it – she’s seen people emerge from depression because of the comfort found in mutual support and practically everyone receives positive benefits from it.

The same can be said, it seems, for those who are fortunate enough to cross Polly’s path.