As part of Berwick Retirement Community’s Passion Projects, concierge Hanan hosted three seminars about Syrian culture and her journey to Canada. Not only did residents enjoy learning about another part of the world, it also helped them build stronger bonds.

As part of Berwick Retirement Community’s Passion Projects, concierge Hanan hosted three seminars about Syrian culture and her journey to Canada. Not only did residents enjoy learning about another part of the world, it also helped them build stronger bonds.

Sharing passions sparks conversation! Innovative project builds bonds at retirement community

Music performances, wine tastings, cultural knowledge… Berwick staff have many hidden talents!

When Hanan first started working at the front desk of Berwick House in Gordon Head, she felt immediately welcomed by residents and fellow employees, but found it hard to break the ice and get past friendly greetings.

“I wanted to be closer to the residents, to let them get to know me because I’m working with them every day,” she says.

So Hanan signed up to host three seminars, part of Berwick’s Passion Projects where staff are encouraged to share their experiences and talents. Hanan hosted three seminars, the first sharing her personal story growing up in Syria, the second describing some of the traditions and celebrations from her home country, and the third sharing Syrian cuisine — complete with delicious samples!

“I was hoping maybe five residents would show up, but was surprised to have about 30! Before my presentations everyone had always been kind and said hello, but now we have longer conversations,” Hanan says.

Berwick concierge Hanan was hoping a handful of residents would show up for her presentation about Syria, but was surprised when about 30 people attended.

Berwick concierge Hanan was hoping a handful of residents would show up for her presentation about Syria, but was surprised when about 30 people attended.

Hanan moved to Lebanon at the beginning of the war in Syria, and came to Canada on a scholarship. Some of her family is still in Lebanon, where life is tumultuous.

“The residents are so supportive. They ask about my family every day, and tell me they’re praying for me and my family. This was the ice breaker — there’s no ‘ice’ anymore.”

Passion Projects are part of The Berwick Way

“Every Berwick community is lucky to be staffed by amazing people of varying ages and experiences. Part of The Berwick Way is encouraging those staff to who wish to do so, to share their skills, talents, culture and experiences with their co-workers and the residents,” says Kathy Ajas, Community Relations Manager at Berwick House.

Across town at Berwick Royal Oak, many other staff have embraced Passion Projects.

  • Spenser and Jasper are part of the talented Dining Room staff, and play the guitar for residents alongside Cohen on the fiddle.
  • Berwick Royal Oak’s Resident Services Manager Cindy recently led a fun jewellery making workshop.
  • Margo, the BAT (Berwick About Town) Car Driver, shared her passion by leading a flower arrangement workshop.
  • Housekeeping Manager Marco did a wonderful presentation about his childhood in Mexico City. “Our residents just loved hearing how close Marco is to his family and how he phones his mother every single day,” says Kathy McAree, Community Relations Manager at Berwick Royal Oak.
  • For International Women’s Day, Diana from Active Living led a presentation on great women who have influenced our lives.
  • Geoff, Berwick Royal Oak’s Maintenance Manager, fancies himself a bit of a beer aficionado. The residents love being led through fun beer tastings by Geoff in The Shield & Dragon Pub.
  • Community Relations Manager Kathy has wine training and has led formal wine tastings. She also shared a presentation about her very personal experience with Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) after her father made the choice to die with dignity.
  • Daniela, a new employee in Active Living, is looking forward to doing a presentation about her home country, Lithuania.
Community Relations Manager Kathy McAree (left) leads a wine tasting with Berwick Royal Oak residents. Photos by Jochen Bocksnick

Community Relations Manager Kathy McAree (left) leads a wine tasting with Berwick Royal Oak residents. Photos by Jochen Bocksnick

“I love that Berwick encourages us to share who we are with the residents,” McAree says. “What we refer to as The Berwick Way is something that I haven’t experienced with any other employer. Berwick truly cares about its employees and this is one of the many ways in which they show us that.”

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 Kathy Ajas at 250 853-5492. For more information about Berwick Royal Oak, contact Kathy McAree at 250 419-4012.

Seniorsseniors housing