Gardens like these are not from some magical seeds dropped from the heavens of grateful families: After the exemplary design and planning of the Horticulture Therapist Lynn Leach and the entire Horticultural Therapy Program as funded by St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation, they are ably assisted by volunteers. And the volunteers, 190 strong, along with staff from the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre and Foundation, and Stedman Community Hospice staff all contribute their free time to celebrate the caregivers. Empire Communities, a community sponsor of the event, joined forces with the Hamilton TiCats and the Foundation to put on an event Monday for one purpose only- Caring for the Caregivers.
One gardener who sits with pride next to a garden path project he recently worked on is Jim Papai.
You may recognize him as a retired gentleman from Brantford, but he is known in much larger circles as a guard in the 1972 Grey Cup when the Hamilton TiCats defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders by a field goal in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter.
And on this day, a couple of current TiCats, Larry Dean and Lucas Wacha, both linebackers, dropped by to help celebrate the volunteers and were quite enamoured by Jim’s gold and diamond ring
Larry led the crowd in a roar with ‘Oskee Wee Wee’ echoed throughout the crowd of over 500 volunteers, staff and families being celebrated.
The leadership team of the Lifecare Centre: Olga Consorti CEO of the Foundation; Jayne Smillie, a St. Joe’s board member and Sales Manager of Brantford Empire Communities; along with TiCats Dean and Wacha; and Shawn Gadsby, President of the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre, welcomed the guests, and shared their congratulations for all the caregivers over the years.
“This is an awesome event for an awesome group of volunteers and caregivers.”A summer high school student intern Jordan Tomkinson says as he flips the burgs;
“We see this an example of giving back when caregivers give us so much.” Rico Gambale, Finance Manager, says as he checked the dogs and buns heating in the stove;
“We realize how staff and volunteers make a difference and we probably don’t say it enough.” Erin Adams, Human Resource Coordinator and her partner Thelma Constantino, Director of Food and Support Services reflect as they handle the food serving duties;
Cheryl Moore, Executive Director of the Hospice in the first photo and Shawn Gadsby, in the second photo, CEO of the Lifecare Centre welcomed everyone at the door and posed with the sponsors. Cheryl remarked, “These people, working as volunteers over 2000 hours per month, help keep our costs down as we don’t charge the families of loved ones in our Hospice.”
“Reflecting on experienced retirees, current staff on days off, and the excitement that high school students bring is something we feel is rewarding.” Cheryl Ann Corner, Volunteer Coordinator for the Hospice and Sherry Viveen, Finance Manager for the Foundation handed out BBQ sausages.
Dozens of other volunteers prepared, delivered or cleaned up the pop, popcorn, burgs, dogs, and ice cream or organized games for the kids. It was literally a feast for a King or Queen…because this is exactly how the caregivers are considered every day of the year at the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre.