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Grant helps Villeneuve seniors

West Country Hearth benefits from St. Albert Community Foundation grant

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 06:00 am

BIG BOOST – St. Albert Community Foundation Chair Kent Davidson, far left, presents a donation to West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation representatives Colleen Soetaert and Ken McGillis at The Gazette office in December.
BIG BOOST – St. Albert Community Foundation Chair Kent Davidson, far left, presents a donation to West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation representatives Colleen Soetaert and Ken McGillis at The Gazette office in December.
STU SALKELD/St. Albert Gazette

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Colleen Soetaert was thrilled to receive a recent grant for $2,000 from the St. Albert Community Foundation. She wasn’t alone.

“My head nurse did a little happy dance and said, ‘I’ll go shopping!’” she said.

Soetaert founded the West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that she is still the chair of. The foundation raised $8 million several years ago to build the West Country Hearth, which it still owns and operates in Villeneuve. It’s Sturgeon County's only assisted living facility for seniors and has faced enough demands that it has already had to expand.

West Country Hearth offers levels of living quarters for the approximately 90 residents, some of whom live independently, others who need home care, and those requiring supported living because they are dealing with dementia and other issues of cognitive dysfunction.

“We call our dementia unit Harmony Haven. We just added on 13 more units,” she said. “We now have 26 units. They sold before you can blink an eye, sadly.”

The other issue with such growth is the need for in-house medical care. Soetaert explained that the grant money would be used to help set up an examination room, the equipment for which she described as “substantial.” The first item up is an examination table.

Whatever the cost, it would certainly be well worth it in her eyes and in those of those who stand to benefit.

“Some of those residents, number one: it’s traumatic to leave. Some are quite unwell and travelling is a real challenge even if it’s just to get in the car and go to the doctor’s office. We’re trying to accommodate that need for those people.”

She added that it would be an excellent use of the money. When asked how appreciative she was about the grant, she let out a loud sigh.

“We sell calendars and we do all kinds of fundraisers. It takes a lot of work to make $2,000. It’s very significant. To be honest, health care dollars don’t always match the demand and so we fundraise to subsidize that because we want really quality care there. Every dollar is substantial. It’s such a gift. It’s for people who really need it. It’s a service to them.”

She mentioned one of the other grants to the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation to help newborns requiring care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

“I thought that was one end of the spectrum and we serve the other end of the spectrum. This is really about quality of life and quality of care with a very difficult end of life illness. Families appreciate that. The residents appreciate that. We like to be able to provide that and without the St. Albert Community Foundation, we couldn’t.”

Kent Davidson, president of the board of the community foundation, explained that the members of his organization felt that it would be an excellent use of financial resources.

“Nobody can make better use of a dollar than a local charity that learned how to maximize the impact of every dollar that they receive,” he began.

“Even when the grants for these organizations are modest, the participants in those organizations are so touched and so grateful and so thankful … their unabashed gratitude for any contributions that are made by our organization to them is really moving really, and meaningful when you’re able to help in those ways.”

He ended by offering the reasoning behind offering such help to the Villeneuve facility.

“We serve, in our community foundation, not just the community of St. Albert but also the surrounding communities including Sturgeon. We know the good work that has been done there. That was a very worthy cause.”

For more information on the St. Albert Community Foundation, please call 780-458-8351 or visit its website at www.sacf.ca. To learn more about the facility, please call 780-418-3015 or visit www.westcountryhearth.ca.


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