At 97, Murray Edwards is a shining example of why the Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead is important.
Edwards uses his left foot to propel his wheelchair along the hallway of the lodge to the library at a rapid clip.
“I never thought I’d be here, but now that I am, I’m very thankful for it,” Edwards said. “I give to [Broadmead] still.”
A lifelong Canadian Forces instructor and veteran, Edwards began visiting friends at Broadmead in 2002. Soon after his first visits, Edwards and his wife made the decision to donate to the annual campaigns held at Broadmead, which continues to be the primary service provider for residential care and day programs for veterans on the Island, offering subsidized accommodations.
But after a stroke changed Edwards’ life a few years ago, he moved into Broadmead in January 2015 (and is doing quite well, thank you, having also taught himself to write with his left hand since the stroke). In fact, Edwards has penned about 20 short, self-published historical accounts of his experiences in the Second World War and the Korean War, and isn’t done yet.
“You see in Edwards a real joy for life, he hasn’t lost it,” said Dave Cheperdak, CEO at Broadmead Care.
At Broadmead, the first purpose is to serve the community in a greater way. The second is to be financially sustainable, so as to have the financial strength to provide a very high quality of service.
The latter is no easy feat considering the costly demands of providing high-quality care for 225 residents and four respite beds available to the 160 weekly day visitors. To do so, Broadmead Care has run a successful series of campaigns to purchase overhead lifts, beds and mattresses and to provide creative arts, music and spiritual care programs and gardens.
Already this year the annual campaign, which aims to raise half a million, was at $584,000 in mid March.
“It’s to update the rooms of the 22-year-old building, that’s a big focus for the coming year,” Cheperdak said.
In the fall, Broadmead Care launched its Every Moment Matters campaign with a goal of $500,000. And if that seems steep, there’s no reason to believe they won’t reach it. For example, Royal Oak resident Rudi Hoenson, a Second world War vet and coffee regular at Broadmead, has donated more than $1 million himself in recent years.
The community gets it, and so does the staff, Cheperdak said.
“We are very business-like in how we operate and reduce our costs where we can, and maximize our resources to provide the best services we can to make every moment matter.”
And yet, there are even bigger projects on the not too distant horizon.
On April 1, Broadmead Care merges with Beckley Farm Lodge in James Bay while Broadmead Care’s Nigel House will be the first new building erected in the massive Nigel Valley redevelopment.
The new Nigel House development is estimated at $17 million and will increase the tenancy from 26 (currently) to 41, while adding market rental suites on the top floor to ensure additional revenue and diversity in the community.
“This is big, we need to raise $2.25 million in the next couple of years, as big as we’ve done,” Cheperdak said.
Meanwhile, a Broadmead Care and Beckley Lodge merger creates a mega non-profit that brings the 475 staff at Broadmead up to more than 600 with the addition of Beckley.
The two facilities share a lot of the same services, and after a year of discussions the move only made sense, Cheperdak said.
“The bottom line is small organizations in our sector are struggling financially. We are a very lean organization, with 600 employees and only five directors in management, that’s incredibly lean.”
Beckley offers 65 residential care beds and a large adult day program and mobile program that supports seniors living at home, with about 5,000 annual program spaces (people can use more than one service). Beckley is also familiar with fundraising, as it recently raised about $120,000 to buy a specialized bus.
And while the number of Second World War and Korean War vets get fewer each year, there is no shortage of modern-day Canadian Forces veterans seeking care, including a cohort of veterans from the peacekeeping missions that started in the 1950s.