A faded octagonal outline is all that remains of a former small gazebo now eclipsed by a larger, wider and safer new summerhouse for the residents of Bethany Cochrane.
“It was that – that’s what it was,” said Bethany Family Council chair Maureen Vink, pointing to the shape on the ground showing the size of the former space. “It was just tiny. (This) is a huge difference.”
Vink and other council members raise money to improve quality of life for their spouses, parents and other relatives who call the Quigley Drive care centre home. The group started collecting funds for a new outdoor pavilion about three years ago, after the old, unsafe octagonal gazebo was torn down.
Last week, guests enjoyed the newly-completed $30,000 gazebo – built by Blueflower Sunrooms and funded by the Treasures For Your Home Society (Home Treasures) – for the first time.
“I think it’s just going to be wonderful for them to enjoy the space,” said Blue Flower owner Doug Mitchell.
“It means a lot to all of us. Our mission is to give back,” added Home Treasures chair Barbara Primeau.
Although the new retreat is available for all to use, it was constructed near Bethany’s wing for long-term care residents. Included in the design are wide doorways for wheelchair accessibility and screens on all four sides to allow a breeze – but not too much wind – to blow through.
“They can’t tolerate the same amount of wind and sun … This way, they can still come out and enjoy it,” said Vink, whose 101-year-old mother lives at the centre. “It’s amazing. I’m hoping that it gets lots of use.”
Council member Denise Haydamack, whose husband, Len, lived at Bethany before his death last year, said an outdoor alcove is “absolutely critical” to the well-being of residents.
“It gives them a place to relax and get some fresh air and some comfort from the elements,” she said.
“It’s a change of scenery,” echoed fellow council member Diane McClennon, who still volunteers at the centre two years after her husband, Larry, died. “You want to help … as much as you can: take them out, take them for a walk.”
Brad Wallace – whose family dedicated a bench at Bethany to their late father, Ken – said his dad was an outdoorsy guy who loved to spend time in the courtyard. He had his own memories of the old gazebo and was happy to see residents now have a new place to appreciate.
“We spent a lot of time swatting wasps and dealing with bird poop in the old gazebo,” said Wallace. “This is certainly a step up.”