Art Wynans works on a new upholstory for the Abbeyfield chairs.

A tale of two homes

The dining room tables and chairs at Abbeyfield got a little TLC recently.

Back in 1980, at the time when the Fir Park Village building was in the latest stages of its construction, Terry Whyte, its first administrator, and Walter Behn, president and founder of the board of directors, had embarked on another big project for the society: buying furniture in preparation to welcome the first group of residents to the new Intermediate Care Home.

Within months, items for the residents’ rooms, such as accessories, appliances for lounges, kitchen, bath tubs, staff equipment, etc, gradually arrived and filled the empty building.

Among those important pieces of equipment were the dining room tables and chairs.

For more than two decades the sturdy chairs and tables saw many residents using them daily at meal times and many visitors who joined the residents at dances and other social events.

As time progressed, there was a need to replace many of those items with new furniture for the comfort of the 67-residents of the home. And when Abbeyfield, a non-profit home for independent seniors, which had no support or connection with any governmental agencies, was in the process of opening its doors to the community and welcome the first residents on Aug. 26, 2002, Fir Park Village donated a number of items to the home. These included tables and chairs. This welcoming addition to the seniors’ home was useful for the normal functioning of the place. “We were in the process of purchasing new furniture for the dining area at that time”, says Donna Michaud, executive assistant for Fir Park Village/Echo Village and the foundation. “And the best place to give it to was to Abbeyfield,”, she added.

But again, as time went on, the need to upgrade and improve the furniture of Abbeyfield was seen as a real need by the board, led by president Marlene Dietrich, who looked for means to finance improvements in the dining room furniture. They applied for a grant from the B.C. Abbeyfield Trust Society, which was soon approved. Those funds were immediately utilized to reupholster every chair in the dining room area.

This work is now gradually being completed by Wynans Furniture (five chairs at a time). Also, thanks to volunteers Phil Dietrich and  Mel Brooks, all chairs and table legs have been refurbished. They  sanded, stained and sprayed all the legs.

This is the second major home improvement in Abbeyfield in the last two years. The first one was the expansion and total renovation of the dining room done as part of a major enhancement of that area of the building, and made possible by the contributions from Royal Canadian Legion Br. 293 and funds from the legacy of late resident Wiets De Koning.

Very soon the Abbeyfield dining room will be completed with “new” chairs and tables, thanks to the contribution of Fir Park Village and the BC Trust Society, and the various individuals, donors and volunteers who have made it possible. And from now on, it is expected to see those chairs and tables continuing being part of the seniors’ lives for decades to come.

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