Wendy Pratt, left, and Eric Martin chat with Janeane Coutu, Eden Gardens fundraising committee member, as they place bids on silent auction items Thursday, June 16, when the facility celebrated its fifth anniversary at its Northfield Road location. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Wendy Pratt, left, and Eric Martin chat with Janeane Coutu, Eden Gardens fundraising committee member, as they place bids on silent auction items Thursday, June 16, when the facility celebrated its fifth anniversary at its Northfield Road location. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens care facility celebrates fifth anniversary

Barbecue and entertainment marked return to happy days following lifting of pandemic restrictions

Eden Gardens marked its fifth anniversary and its first real chance to celebrate since the start of the pandemic.

The dementia care facility served hamburgers and hotdogs, brought in live musicians, children’s entertainment, played games and held a silent auction fundraiser to celebrate its fifth anniversary at its location on Northfield Road. The event was held Thursday, June 16, in the outdoor entrance way of the facility and was the first party of its kind at Eden Gardens since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Eden Gardens is a non-profit care facility owned by the Travellers Lodge Society. Its predecessor, the Travellers Lodge, operated for 38 years at the corner of Nelson Street and Boundary Crescent before the new residence was completed on Northfield Road in 2017.

Erin Beaudoin, Eden Gardens executive director, said the celebration was for staff as well as residents.

“We’re here celebrating that fifth anniversary and the fact that we are able to celebrate and have people around again,” Beaudoin said. “It’s been quiet and we’re not a home that was typically quiet before the pandemic started. I would say one of the things that we were most proud about was that there was a lot of life in our hallways and it got really quiet and boring and isolated through the pandemic, but even today things just started buzzing again.”

Beaudoin said Eden Gardens is the full-time home to 130 residents, and about 160 others attend its day programs every month.

She said dreariness brought about by pandemic protocols was broken up by supporters throughout the Nanaimo community. For example, ballerinas danced outside the building, saxophone and trumpet players came by to perform and youth artists painted rocks for the grounds.

“I would say one of the things that we’re really thankful to have everybody in our community at large here today is the fact that our community showed up a lot for us during the pandemic,” Beaudoin said.

Memory Lane, a forest pathway through the Eden Gardens grounds, was also born out of the pandemic.

“It was an inspiration because we were stuck here on the property,” Beaudoin said. “We couldn’t leave, so it brought a lot of innovation and creativity, but … our philosophy is to fight against loneliness, helpless and boredom and there was a lot of loneliness, helplessness and boredom. A lot of isolation. Not having families here for 200 days in a row. That was pretty tough. It made it harder to get to know our residents because the families are such a part of how we get to know them.”

READ ALSO: Seniors care centre wants to make its new forest trail more accessible

Beaudoin said it’s Eden Gardens responsibility to bring the outside world to its residents, which can happen now that pandemic restrictions have lifted. The facility is bringing in an instructor to practise laughter yoga with residents and a juggler. As well, children can once again come into the facility.

Beaudoin said having celebrations at Eden Gardens such as the fifth-anniversary bash is fun for staff, too.

“It’s [residents’] joy that makes it worth coming to work. It reminds us of why we do what we do,” she said. “When you don’t see a smile for a year plus, it makes it hard to keep going, so it reinvigorates the staff.”

READ ALSO: Mural unveiled at Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens



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