Thunder Bay, ON ---- June 7 2012 ------ I enjoyed an interesting conversation with Sean Adams, Manager of Chartwell Select home for seniors on Arundel Street.
On a bright sunny day it is hard to imagine that this senior’s facility is playing a vital part in helping the city of Thunder Bay recover from its state of disaster.
Sean came up with the idea of putting some of the retirement homes excess capacity to work to help out with the Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts. The whole effort came about quickly. Once he met with Red Cross Officials in his office at 5:00 p.m. on June 1st, rooms were made available and by 2:00 a.m. 37 Red Cross Volunteers were lodged at Chartwell Select . Who says things move slowly at a senior’s residence!
“It’s not just the flood, but all of the consequences that have come about because of the flood”, says Dave St. George, a Red Cross co-ordinator in Thunder Bay. “There are some complicated issues” says Dave in response to how long the Red Cross workers will be at Chartwell.
I asked Dave what has made the biggest impression on him since he arrived in Thunder Bay, he told me of an woman whose basement housed her custom sewing business. She not only lost a place to live but the $70,000 worth of fabrics and machines that form the basis of her livelihood were lost as well. When I spoke with Sean Adams about Chartwell’s role he said “ Chartwell is 100% committed to making people’s lives better, this was our opportunity to do something.”
Sean Adams first became involved with the Red Cross buy giving up some of the home’s respite rooms so that seniors affected by the flooding could find a place to say. In a later conversation with the Red Cross he learned that the Red Cross was looking for some place to house volunteers. “This was something that he thought we should do” and in no time he had the support of upper management and on the first night 37 volunteers. That number is expected to grow to over 80 over the course of disaster relief.
There are several things that make the retirement home an excellent location. For one there is a very welcoming atmosphere in the home. The staff is trained to know people by name and they have the facilities to provide quality care. The retirement home is also equipped with a large movie theatre, a games room with pool tables and shuffle board. One senior I know enjoyed a game of cribbage with some of the volunteers.
According to both Dave St. George and Sean Adams, when relief workers are finished their day they need to make a clean break from the disaster and carnage that they have been working with all day. They are tired, hungry and they need to wind down. “The volunteers love it” says Dave St. George.
In the photo above Sean Adams poses with some of the Red Cross Volunteers. They come from all over Canada. In this small group Sudbury, Hamilton and several places in Southern Ontario are represented. The volunteers day begins at 6:30, well before the residents come for breakfast. The retirement home serves them a buffet breakfast which reduces the need for staff and speeds things up. The volunteers are out and working before the first residents come for breakfast. The Red Cross people work long hours and they are bussed back to the home for a buffet supper at 8:00 p.m. If you have ever eaten at Chartwell homes you will know that the food is good.
Across the city firms and individuals are working hard to alleviate the damage from this recent flood. In some areas of the city life continues on as normal, but for many in the flooded areas the memories and the bills will keep coming for a long time. There are many ways to lend your support to flood victims, choose one that is meaningful to you and become part of the group of Canadians helping fellow Canadians in a time of need.