Valley Seniors: A milestone for Alberni’s Echo Village

Echo Village senior facility in Port Alberni is nearing its 20th year in operation.

“It’s hard to believe that this home is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary,” says Cecile Herkel, a 10-year resident of Echo Village and past president of the Residents Council.

“This place means lots to me, not only because I made it my home, where I live independently without putting pressure on my family, but because I was a member of the board of directors and president of the “Cottages and Towers,” she said.

Herkel moved to Port Alberni 72 years ago, from Debden, Sask.

Another resident, Phyllis Chisholm, also past president of the Residents Council, says that she has enjoyed her  life at Echo Village for the past six years.

“This is a nice place to live. They treat you well and make sure you are well taken care of. I like going on bus trips, especially when we go shopping to Walmart on our bus.”

(The Residents Council is raising money for a new bus, putting aside $50 a month for this purpose. More fundraisers are planned.)

“I am very happy with the upcoming 20th anniversary celebration of this home,” Chisholm said.

Leanna Fines, director of residential and community programs, is responsible for the creation of programs and activities that enhance residents’ wellbeing at Fir Park Village and Echo Village.

Fines says that by working in the “villages” one develops a sense of community, which allows the residents to be linked to the larger community.

“I am a strong believer in the creation of programs for seniors; and although we have suffered cuts, our programs still operate seven days a week.

“Thanks to the staff and the support from the board, we are among the few homes for seniors who can offer recreational opportunities continuously.”

Fines grew up and graduated from school in Port Alberni and has been working for Alberni-Clayoquot Continuing Care Society for eight years.

Mitzie Colyn also appreciates the giving spirit of the community.

“I enjoy my job at Echo Village, mainly for the family atmosphere it has developed between residents and staff,”  says Colyn, who has been with the society for 23 years and worked at Echo Village as a program coordinator for the past 12.

Colyn says the seniors benefit from the support system at both villages.

“We have about 150 volunteers that give their time to us, from the candy stripers to bus drivers, pastoral care to a wide variety of entertainers.”

The theme for this special anniversary is “Together We Soar”.

“With ‘Together We Soar’ we will draw from the flying formation of the geese,” Fines explains.

Each bird’s flapping wings create an updraft to ease the way for the birds behind. As the lead bird tires, another is ready to step in.

Cooperation helps them fly 70 per cent more miles in the same time as one bird alone; their journey together a triumph of teamwork.

Combined with this theme will be the traditional idea of china (as in dishes), symbolizing beauty and elegance; as well as the more modern idea of platinum which symbolizes strength and endurance.

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