Residents, family, friends, staff and volunteers of St. Patrick’s Mercy Home came together for an afternoon of fun and fellowship at the Annual Garden Party in St. John’s on July 23, 2014.
Planning and preparation for the Garden Party is a team effort – and starts months in advance.
A Garden Party Planning Committee, consisting of staff from St. Patrick’s recreation therapy department, dietary department, facilities department, among others first came together in May to begin discussions and planning for the event.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither was the Garden Party,” laughed Barry Penton, who works with St. Patrick’s Recreation Therapy Department. “It’s great to see all the months of planning come together to provide a meaningful “time” for all residents and their families.
“An event such as this brings out the overall well-being of all those involved.”
Executive Director Joan Marie Aylward opened the event by welcoming special guests who included Their Honours the Honourable Frank F. Fagan, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador and Mrs. Patricia Fagan, Archbishop Martin Currie and Sister Elizabeth Davis, congregational leader for the Sisters of Mercy and member of the St. Patrick’s Mercy Home Board of Directors.
The Celtic Fiddlers started off the afternoon by entertaining the crowd with some lively fiddle playing and solo performances followed by our dedicated volunteers Frances Galgay and Steve Knight.
Dr. Aaron McKim, Eastern Health’s Clinical Chief of long-term care arrived on his unicycle and performed his juggling act for the delighted crowd.
“I think that putting a smile on the faces of our elders is one of the most important things we can do in long-term care,” said Dr. McKim. “I would gladly withstand wind, rain and unicycling on wet pavement if it can help people find laughter, as it’s the laughter and enjoyment of each other’s company that makes all the difficulties in life worthwhile!”
Even a group of furry friends joined in the fun – including Jake Doyle, a Newfoundland dog; Fraize, a horse member of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) Mounted Unit; the St. John Ambulance pet therapy dogs; and Salty, a dog from the Downhome Magazine.
The Knights of Columbus organized and ran the cash wheel with the help of a group of dedicated individuals who graciously volunteered their time to assist with the ticket selling and wheel spins. The air was filled with excitement and anticipation as everyone waited for the ticket numbers to be called and the winner to be announced.
And the treats weren’t limited to entertainment! A special thank you to the St. Patrick’s Mercy Home Auxiliary for the delicious food they provided!
Wince Coles and Dave Wilson brought the musical entertainment to a close with some wonderful Irish Newfoundland tunes.
“The St. Pat’s Garden Party is a great way for residents, families, volunteers and staff to come together and enjoy a day filled with some of our best entertainers and delicious treats,” said Joan Marie Aylward. “Residents decorated their own hats for the Garden Party and enjoyed trying their luck on the cash wheel, thanks to the Knights of Columbus. There was a great feeling of family, friends and fun – what a fabulous day!”
Residents who could not attend the Garden Party events outside got as close as they could to the afternoon’s events. Nursing staff moved their beds near the open window so they could listen and sing along to the many wonderful tunes they were so familiar with.
The last word goes to resident Mary Kiss, who says the event made her day!
“I really enjoyed it – the people, activities, seeing the RNC horses, all the generosity of staff and all they did that day, the fries and ice cream, and the lovely hats that were made for the ladies,” Ms. Kiss said.
“It meant a lot to me – getting out to meet with people, as I love meeting people, and the music was fantastic,” she added. “I had a wonderful, wonderful day, and I am really looking forwarded to next year’s Garden Party – God willing!”
Even the weather cooperated, making the event everything a summer garden party should be! All in all – a great success – and the residents and staff of St. Patrick’s Mercy Home thank everyone who contributed. We couldn’t have done it without you! ■
This story was submitted by Lana Morgan, assistant to the executive director of St. Patrick’s Mercy Home.