“To be a good neighbour we all need to look beyond our fence and extend an invitation. It’s how we become part of something more meaningful,” says Tom Goluza, general manager of Berwick House.
That community spirit inspires staff and residents of Berwick Retirement Communities every day, and it’s one of the reasons they were excited to participate in the 40th Peninsula Co-op Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 26. Residents, staff and their families came together to show their community spirit and kick off the holidays with enthusiasm!
Spreading holiday cheer is just the beginning — Berwick residents find ways to connect and support each other and the community throughout the year.
“It makes a real difference that we’re locally owned and operated. It’s a family business, run by father and son Gordon and Chris Denford, so we have the opportunity to put the resident experience first,” says Kathy McAree, Community Relations Manager at Berwick Royal Oak. “Community is very important – both the strength of our Berwick community as well as being a part of the overall community.”
The Berwick ‘grandparent’ program
Both Berwick Royal Oak and Berwick House in Gordon Head have developed relationships with local elementary schools, where seniors are matched with a kindergarten student and get together at least once a month.
“The Grandparent Program benefits both the young students as well as the residents. The bond that is created between the two is like no other,” says Marjorie Roach, kindergarten teacher at Strawberry Vale Elementary. “It teaches the children respect, empathy and the importance of kindness. It’s an opportunity to develop a relationship with a person outside their family.”
Students and residents sometimes meet at school (like at the recent school Remembrance Day ceremony) or at Berwick where they decorate pumpkins, craft Valentines, and carol with Santa.
“It warms my heart when I see one of our resident grandparents has posted a note and picture from their Strawberry Vale grandchild on their door. There is such meaning to these intergenerational connections far beyond community spirit!” McAree says.
You’ve been Berwick’d
Every Berwick on Vancouver Island (plus one in the Okanagan) reach out to say thanks to their local communities in different ways, through a program they call ‘You’ve been Berwick’d.’
“We deliver hand-written notes and goodies to those in the community who are generous in time and spirit to us,” McAree says.
Victoria Hospice, Thrifty’s Sendial volunteers, pharmacies, hearing aid centres, fire department, movers and downsizers, and others have all ‘been Berwick’d’ with a surprise gift basket and thank you’s.
Shelley Engelhardt has worked with Berwick on several fundraising initiatives through her roles as a legacy giving manager for a variety of Victoria charities. She says Berwicks are “always warm and welcoming” and she appreciates how Berwick residents like to learn about – and be a part of – what is happening out in the community.
From fundraisers for the crisis in Ukraine to woodworking at Heritage Acres and many other individual volunteer efforts, Berwick residents are often inspired to give back to their community.
“Every business has a responsibility to provide the best service possible to its clients but what is equally as important is the relationships that we nurture and develop within our local community at large,” Goluza says.
Berwick Retirement Communities are both locally and family owned offering flexible, upscale and affordable senior living options in a caring community. For more information about Berwick House, contact Maggie Raw at 250-853-5492. For more information about Berwick Royal Oak, contact Kathy McAree at 250 419-4012.