Leona Wallace adds her good wishes to a card that Villa Care Centre residents, staff members and volunteers signed for young heart transplant recipient Gabrielle Sager.
Hearts at Villa Care Centre go out to young transplant recipient
More than $650 added to community’s support for family
Their hearts touched by a child in the community facing a serious health challenge, Villa Care Centre residents recently mobilized to support a grassroots fundraising campaign.
Over a two-week period, they baked cookies and cupcakes, made fudge, and created Valentine’s Day cards for a sale Feb. 10 at the Midland long-term care home. Most everything sold out, including dozens of bracelets from the community-based Hearts for Gaby initiative to assist 12-year-old heart transplant recipient Gabrielle Sanger and her family.
In total, the residents, with the help of staff, families and visitors, raised more than $650. A cheque was presented to a Hearts for Gaby representative — along with a card made and signed by Villa Care residents, staff and volunteers — at the home’s Valentine’s Tea on Feb. 14.
Ruth McCullough, president of the residents’ council which endorsed the fundraising effort, says everyone has “a feeling deep down in their heart” for Gabrielle and “we’d just like to be there to help.”
Born with a congenital heart defect, Gabrielle underwent a second transplant in January at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children after the first heart she received as a toddler was rejected.
Family, as well as friends and co-workers of Gabrielle and her mother, Kelly Bald, launched Hearts for Gaby to support the family through the lengthy recuperation period.
Word of the bracelet-selling campaign has spread throughout the community, and has been featured by local media. When Villa Care residents heard about it, they wanted to help too.
Debbie Arbour is the Jarlette home’s co-director of care and Gabrielle’s great aunt. She says the family is overwhelmed by all of the community support, with approximately $15,000 raised to date.
In her 10 years at Villa Care, she says she’s never seen a fundraiser garner quite the same response as the one for Gabrielle.
“It’s just been awesome,” Arbour says, adding it was great to see residents’ council take the initiative.
Volunteer services and therapeutics co-ordinator Sharon Randall says one of the “oodles of good reasons” to support Hearts for Gaby is that it fits with Villa Care’s greater focus this year on enhancing volunteer opportunities for residents both within the home and community.
“We’ve noticed that some of our volunteers are now living in (long-term care) homes,” Randall says, and being able to “continue to do something they’ve always done” is an integral and important part of their identity and self-esteem, and a way to create or preserve ties to the community.
The same benefits hold true for residents new to volunteering.
It’s hoped that residents’ council will be a vehicle to recruit volunteers and ideas, with Randall noting lots of input is already coming forward.
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