Abbeyfield House residents in Port Alberni kicked off their Canada Day celebration by honouring a longtime volunteer on Wednesday, July 1.
Doreen Bessette and her husband Bob were founding members of Abbeyfield House, working with the late Terry Whyte to bring the seniors’ housing development to Port Alberni. Doreen Bessette spent 22 years on the board of directors, and announced this year that she would be retiring.
“They said we couldn’t have an Abbeyfield House of 20 people, but we did,” Bessette said, calling the seniors’ facility a success. She said having the portion of the old West Coast General Hospital become available was the best thing that happened for Abbeyfield, which took over the spot.
“We were lucky to have Bob Howard (as a volunteer) because he had worked at the hospital,” Bessette recalled.
Howard was able to find equipment to repair what they had in the early years.
Bessette also lauded fellow founders Marlene and Phil Dietrich, calling them “the backbone of Abbeyfield” for all the work they put into it when it first opened.
Marlene Dietrich, former chair of the board and now treasurer, presented Bessette with a card and necklace, thanking her for more than two decades of service to Abbeyfield House.
(EDITED: The original version of this story misspelled Doreen Bessette’s name. We regret the error and apologize to Mrs. Bessette for any embarrassment this may have caused.)