In a few weeks the residents of Abbeyfield will celebrate the 12th anniversary since it opened its doors to the community.
It has been an interesting process, initiated by founder Terry Whyte and carried out by many who have been actively involved in supporting this non-profit organization.
The staff have been instrumental to the success of Abbeyfield in the provision of shelter, and home-like environment to dozens of seniors in the Valley, as they have complied with the philosophical mandate and principles established by the society.
Staff member Jeanette Stacey has has worked in the kitchen since 2002, and is an essential part of the organization’s success.
Born near Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England, Jeanette worked for local municipal government for 22 years.
Her interest in seniors developed as a volunteer in a care home in Hitchin.
In 1996 she met her future husband Peter, a Canadian school teacher visiting England on his way to Ireland where his family was from.
They soon knew that they wanted to pursue a relationship, and Peter took a leave of absence from his Alberta high school teaching position and came to live with her and teach in England.
They got married in 1998, and within two weeks, the couple were on their way to Edmonton, where Peter resumed his teaching career.
For a while, Jeanette did not have working papers but soon she enrolled herself as a volunteer at The Good Samaritan Society “I grew to love the work and was fortunate to be taken on in a paid capacity as Care Aid once my permission to work was granted”, she said.
After four years in Alberta, both Peter and Jeanette moved to the BC West Coast, where soon they realized that Port Alberni was a suitable and very pleasant place to live.
“Soon after arriving in 2002, I heard that a new seniors residence was about to open, so I applied for a position in the kitchen at Abbeyfield,” she sad. “At that time, I had no prior knowledge about the history of Abbeyfield, despite living in England for years where there are many Abbeyfield seniors residences.
She believes that in the Abbeyfield movement each resident lives in community to a more or less degree depending on each individual’s preference.
They receive nutritious meals and can join in with the Abbeyfield activities if they wish. Residents rooms are comfortable and are decorated to their liking.
The kitchen staff support the various special events organized around the calendar activities and residents’ celebrations by catering the needs of those events, which range from anniversaries, open houses to dinners, teas, etc. When asked for highlights of her 12 years, she does not hesitate in stating that the Official Opening of Abbeyfield.
This was an unforgettable moment of her time working in this home.
She also adds that the yearly trips to Denman Island by the residents on their three-day summer “vacations”, tops her highlights.
“What a pleasure it was to see some of the residents who chose to go on “holidays” and change their scenery for a short time”, she said.
Two of the longest residents of Abbeyfield, Muriel Thompson and Bertha Levesque, expressed their appreciation for the job Jeanette has done in Abbeyfield.
“I clearly remember when I first came to Abbeyfield and I was very nervous and uncertain about my new home,” she said.
“Jeanette made it easy for me to get familiar with the place and made me feel welcome”, Mrs. Thompson. said
“She is a gentle and caring person, always trying to provide a good service in a pleasant way”, Mrs. Lévesque added.
As Abbeyfield prepares to celebrate another successful year of operation, congratulations go to Jeanette Stacey.
She ensures that the residents enjoy their living conditions in a comfortable home, and for the staff to work in a pleasant environment.
Our writer: Valley Seniors is a monthly feature compiled by Orlando Delano and featuring residents living in Port Alberni seniors complexes.