The Strength of Community in the Kindness of its People

When the Village of Wentworth Heights opened its retirement neighbourhoods in the fall of 2016, it was the full realization of the Schlegel Villages vision in Hamilton for a full continuum of care offering everything from long-term care through to fully independent, retirement living. A Schlegel Village, however, is so much more than a simple long-term care or a retirement home – the Villages are special because of their commitment to community, and that commitment comes to life in the kind spirit of Wentworth Heights resident Gord Fuller. 

Gordon continues to find meaning in his days as he supports his neighbours at Wentworth Heights.
Gordon continues to find meaning in his days
as he supports his neighbours at Wentworth Heights. 

Gord and his wife Joan were always the most social of couples. Saturday nights in their Montreal home were spent around the table with food and drink flowing and their children and eventually grandchildren gathered around.

Gord jokes that it was a space meant for five that would typically house double that, and that’s the way life should be.

Gord and Joan eventually settled in Guelph after retirement and when Joan’s health began to decline, they chose to move to The Village of Arbour Trails, a sister Village to Wentworth Heights. It was a long-term care environment that Joan would eventually need, however, which is not available at Arbour Trails, and that is how they connected to Wentworth Heights just a short drive away from their daughter in St. Catharines.  

Joan moved in the long-term care neighbourhoods in March 2021 while Gord moved just down Main Street to the Ailsa Craig neighbourhood in retirement two weeks later.

“I visited Joan every day, morning and afternoon,” Gord says, “and I got to know a lot of the residents there by name.”

He became a familiar face to so many people, many of whom didn’t have visitors, and he was struck by how far a simple conversation would go to brighten the days of some residents.

“There are people from all over and they have all sorts of experience,” Gord says. “There are writers here, musicians here and there’s one woman over in long-term care whose paintings have been displayed, but I’ve never seen anyone visit her.”

But Gord still visits.

Joan’s health continued to decline and Gord said his final goodbye just over three months after they moved in. Such loss is never easy, but Gord seems at peace as he shares memories of his beloved wife and the life they built together. He also describes the meaning he finds in still being able to support others on the other side of the Village, for he is still a regular fixture in the long-term care neighbourhoods.

He may be found helping with a group activity or simply guiding someone’s wheelchair in a sunny day through the courtyard.

“There is one woman who doesn’t want to talk,” Gord says, she just wants to hold my hand,” and he’s content to be that point of meaningful contact. Perhaps he needs it as well, and that is the beauty of a true community, where each member can offer of themselves to enhance the lives of others.