CORNER BROOK, N.L.
Glenda Simms was feeling awesome on Wednesday morning as she was putting the finishing touches on a project near and dear to her heart — to spread some cheer by providing gift bags for people living in seniors’ homes around the area.
The Corner Brook woman loves working with seniors and has a lot of experience in it from working on cruise ships. But it also comes from the special relationship she has with her grandparents — Ruby and Ches Burt — who live at the Mountain View Retirement Centre.
Simms has only been able to have window visits with them since the COVID-19 pandemic started and said it’s hard to be apart.
“Going to the window down at the seniors’ home and seeing them way, I didn’t think it would break me like it did,” she said. “But not being able to hold them is like crazy. It’s like not being able to hold your child. My heart was wrenched.”
That got her thinking about how many other people are living or working away and can’t maintain a connection with their parents or grandparents, and about the senior members of the community who have parents at the homes but can’t help them because of being in a high risk category to contract COVID-19.
She started a group on Facebook that’s now known as Supporting Seniors in lockdown – Western NL where she posted about visits with her grandparents and encouraged people to check on their elderly neighbours or help them out if they needed it.
Then she saw the ninja groups that were dropping off gifts to adults and children and thought it was “definitely a pick me upper,” and why not do something like that for the seniors.
She reached out through the group and soon had people jumping on board to help her fill gift bags with an assortment of items — toiletries, puzzle books, hats and snacks — for seniors.
She’s been doing all the work in her downtime, but has the full support of her employer, the City of Corner Brook. Simms is the city’s tourism co-ordinator.
On Wednesday afternoon the city sent out its Mill Whistler street train as Simms delivered 89 bags to Mountain View and 20 to the residents at Xavier House.
Simms was on the train and members of her group followed behind in vehicles with the bags.
For Simms it’s all about showing respect to seniors.
“We wouldn’t have the community that we have it if wasn’t for the seniors,” she said.
“It fulfills the heart. Makes me feel like I am sending them a hug and a thank you for building our town. They are all so important.”
And while the seniors at Mountain View won’t get the bags for a few more days — they have to go in quarantine first — manager Barbara Baker said the gift is truly appreciated.
“It meant so much to know that there are people out there that will do things for them.
“We’re trying our best in here, but to actually see that someone is caring and going to bring this stuff into them. It’s going to make their day,” she said.
“The only downside is there’s people in the community doing this for them but they can’t see the pleasure on their faces. People work so hard they don’t realize how happy (it makes the residents).
“It’s a wonderful thing and we appreciate it so much, it’s just we can’t show it at this time. We’ll get out chance for sure.”
Today, Simms will drop another drop 40 bags at the Lohnes Complex and five at the Blow Me Down Retirement Centre in Lark Harbour.
Eighty bags will also be delivered to the Deer Lake Manor in Deer Lake. And she’s still working on bags for the Westmount Estates Retirement Community in Corner Brook, Bayshore Estates in Irishtown-Summerside and Mountain View House in Meadows.
While the Mill Whistler was out helping with the deliveries the city also took the opportunity do a bit of community outreach and spread a bit of cheer by driving around some city streets.