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When the coronavirus hit in early March, the Leighton Art Centre ran with an idea to use art to bring a little joy to older adults in isolation. They asked their 300-plus artist members to create handmade greeting cards with personal messages of support from each of the artists. The Leighton Centre chose to distribute the cards to the residents of long-time supporters United Active Living.

Resident Marjory Koop with her hand-made card

Resident Marjory Koop with her hand-made card

“We looked at what we could do to provide some support and encouragement during this difficult time, and decided to connect our artists with the residents,” said Alison Marshall, the Leighton Centre’s gallery manager and workshop coordinator. “We did a call out to our artists, and expanded it to include families and children. Over the last two months, some 600 cards – all individually made – were created. We dropped them off to United last week, with any extras going to the Bethany Care Centre.”

“We have had a great relationship with the Leighton Art Centre for many years, so when they called us with the idea, we were thrilled and knew this would be a  hit with residents,” said United creative facilitator Maddison Klein. “We went door to door, giving a card to each resident. They were particularly struck by the fact that each card was an original piece of art with a separate message from the artist. I think these are going to be collector’s items they will treasure for a long time.”

Resident Jane Kelly with her card

Resident Jane Kelly shows off her card

Garrison Green resident Jane Kelly was one who received a card from a 10-year-old. “I really appreciated it. It was really terrific! It shows a popsicle with sunglasses, and the message was ‘to a cool customer’. It was a lovely thing to do. It really lifted my spirts and made my day. I laugh every time I see it.”

 

Watch the delightful response from Garrison Green resident Allan Holbrook.

 

“This project has been absolutely delightful,” said Alison. “It really warmed our hearts. When we received the cards from the artists, we went through them and sorted them. The artwork and the messages brought tears to our eyes. The messages of encouragement and support are so beautiful, we were thrilled to pass them along to the residents.”

Photos by United Active Living

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

The restrictions on visiting mean that tours aren’t available right now, but don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour once it’s safe to do so. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Grandparents have a lifetime of experience to share, but often we don’t capture their important life stories. The Grandparent Project was initiated by Fish Creek resident Les Stewart who suggested that families take the isolation opportunity to learn more about their grandparents by keeping a journal of the important memories and events in their lives, or by doing informal interviews to learn more about them.

“One of my daughters, Lisa, thought that a family heritage project would be a great learning experience for her twin 10-year-olds Brycen and Renee,” said Les. “She created a list of 81 questions, grouped by subject, that covers basic family information but also expands into what school friendships I had, life during the Depression, the war and other major life events.”

“I was brainstorming ideas one day of how to maintain a strong connection with dad while he was in isolation and thought that having my children interview him about his heritage might be a fun and educational experience for everyone, but it has become a terrific way to create an even deeper relationship between my children and their grandfather,” said Lisa Stewart. “Once we got dad set up with the video technology, the project has produced some wonderful stories that have made a big impression on them. I’m also learning some interesting things about him. Everyone’s getting a big charge out of it.”

The questions Lisa came up with range from the serious to the whimsical. For example:

  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your life?
  • What are your top three tips for me to remember?
  • Did you have a nickname?
  • What are some practical jokes you played on someone?
Lisa and her children stay in touch with Les

Lisa and her children stay in touch with Les

“Grampy told the kids a few things that made them gasp a little and really surprised them,” said Lisa. “For example, he was born in a house, not a hospital. There were no cell phones, and the home phone was a party line with the neighbours. He earned only $2 a month for doing a large number of chores around the house. He was a spotter for airplanes in case enemy aircraft flew over his home in Nova Scotia.”

“I think a project like this is extremely important,” said Les. “So often the children and grandchildren in our families know very little about the early lives of their parents and grandparents. It’s only later in life that they might begin to wonder what life was like back then. This way, we can tell our stories and those memories will remain part of our family’s history.”

The project is now about to grow. United is excited to be supporting the project by sharing the list of more than 80 questions developed by Lisa to other families and residents for them to use to get their own stories started.

The list of questions is extensive and is sure to promote some lively discussions. If you would like to download a copy of Lisa’s questions, click here.

“My plan is to write up a summary of grampy’s stories to send along to relatives,” said Lisa. “So many of them would love to hear more about his life along with any stories which may contain information about their own parents and grandparents. It’s so important to hear those stories. Often, young children aren’t that interested, but if we make the process and the information appealing to them, there is an opportunity to bond the generations.”

Since those discussions are now done over the phone or on a video call, United is helping residents set up video calls with friends and family. Families who wish to set up a video call can contact the reception desks at both communities and book a time. It’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends.

Photos by United Active Living, Lisa Stewart

Take a look at our Public Service Announcement.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

The restrictions on visiting mean that tours aren’t available right now, but don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour once it’s safe to do so. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Luka Coetzee on the phone with one of the residents

Luka Coetzee on the phone with one of the residents

Being isolated means finding creative ways to enjoy your favourite music without actually being there. United Active Living arranged for small, intimate concerts with a performer from Mount Royal University’s Conservatory.  The performances were done over the phone, and gave residents the opportunity to talk with the performer and enjoy a concert just for them.

“We used to perform quite regularly at United’s Garrison Green community,” said Conservatory cellist Luka Coetzee. “Since that isn’t possible right now, I was asked if I could play for several residents over the phone. I chose Going Home by Antonin Dvorak.” You can watch Luka play a similar piece by going to her YouTube channel below.

Resident Marion Enta on the phone with Luka Coetzee

Resident Marion Enta on the phone with Luka Coetzee

“Playing for residents this way was a new experience for me,” said Luka. “I really enjoyed playing for them. Some of them remembered seeing me play when we were able to go into the community. I know they are isolated, so hearing their reaction filled me with gratitude. I was so glad I could bring them a little joy.”

“I heard her before when they played here,” said Garrison Green resident Marion Enta. “She is a very impressive cellist. Hearing her on the phone isn’t the same as being able to see her play live, but it was a very nice thought to give us the opportunity to hear her play.”

Marion has been involved in music for many years. Her children went through the Suzuki program at Mount Royal, learning to play the violin and cello. “Any way United can find to help us stay active and engaged is most welcome. I look forward to being able to go to concerts again.”

Trudy Martin shows off the ear protectors she and others have knitted

Trudy Martin with some of the ear protectors she and others have knitted

Speaking of staying engaged, the creative facilitators at Garrison Green interested residents in knitting ear protectors for employees who wear face masks all day. “They have become quite the rage on the Internet,” said resident Trudy Martin. “Creative facilitator Monica Schmidt found a pattern on the Internet and we started making them a few weeks ago.”

The ear protectors lift the mask’s elastic band off the top of the ear. The elastic is held in place with two buttons sewn into the fabric. It makes wearing the masks for long periods of time far more comfortable.

“We’ve made about 25 so far. It’s gone crazy! The employees have fallen in love with them and are always asking for more. We will need to do another 25 or so just to keep up with demand. We gave a few to the chefs in the kitchen. They aren’t just for women. The men appreciate them as well. It’s been a really positive thing for everyone,” said Trudy.

Photos by United Active Living, the Coetzee family.

Take a look at our new Public Service Announcement.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

The restrictions on visiting mean that tours aren’t available right now, but don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour once it’s safe to do so. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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United’s residents and creative facilitators are stretching their creative muscles to develop new programs at a time when gatherings aren’t possible.

What's better than an ice cream cart? Two ice cream carts!

What’s better than an ice cream cart? Two ice cream carts!

“Our usual programs include lectures, concerts and creative workshops, which typically bring people together into a single space. Now that that is no longer possible, we are working with residents to develop a range of alternative programs,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development and creative expressions manager. “We are staying informed about what is going on but not focusing on the fear and uncertainty. Instead, we are putting our attention towards finding safe, enjoyable and imaginative ways to keep residents engaged physically, socially and mentally.”

Residents and staff participate in recommending fun and interesting things for residents to do in their suites. One such outcome is the creation of an ice cream cart complete with colourful streamers and traditional ice cream cart tunes. The creative facilitators do double duty as ice cream delivery people, ‘riding’ the carts down the hallways, knocking on doors and sharing ice cream and a little laughter with the residents.

Ice cream puts a smile on every face

Ice cream puts a smile on every face

“It gives us an opportunity to let them know that we’re thinking of them,” said Kim. “We will also be asking for any positive message that they would like to share with our employees. We will write their quotes on colourful paper and put them up in the staff room. Having direct quotes from the residents is very much appreciated and it helps to lift the spirits of staff who are working hard to keep everyone safe.”

As an example, one resident at Fish Creek, Jack B. , has left several messages for the employees thanking everyone for their hard work in keeping the community safe. In one message he included a smiley faced sun.

In place of regular programming, a Good News Bulletin goes out each week, as does a weekly email, with links to various online events, such as art documentaries, concerts and virtual museum tours. Twice a week Kim and others help residents get set up on Zoom and FaceTime so they can stay connected with families. “The residents are learning some new skills, and we’re finding they are enjoying the challenge of mastering the technology. It’s fun watching their faces light up when they connect with family or friends.”

Kim said that although it has been challenging adapting to all the changes over the last few weeks, the staff has found a rhythm in adhering to the new processes, which allows their creativity to shine. “We don’t do average. We never have,” said Kim. “That extends to finding new programming and innovative ways to keep residents and their families informed and engaged in what we are doing.”

Fish Creek resident Libby R. stays connected to her friends and family

Fish Creek resident Libby R. stays connected to her friends and family

One thing that hasn’t changed is the feeling of community. “It may be a cliche, but we really are all in this together. Residents have always been an integral part in all of the programming we develop. They give us suggestions and we put them in place.”

In United’s spring program guides, which have been put on hold for the time being, the theme for April was “A World of Possibilities”. While the April programs have been delayed, the theme remains all the more relevant.

“The collaboration with residents and employees means that everyone remains connected as a community. I think in many ways that feeling of community is stronger than ever. We have all come together in a difficult time, and when the time comes when we can lift some of the restrictions. we’ll be stronger for it.”

Photos by United Active Living. Videos by Sherana Productions.

Take a look at our new Public Service Announcement.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

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Older adults who are normally very active and engaged are facing a particularly difficult time over the last couple of weeks as more stringent measures on movement and socializing take effect.

Jean and Dean Geddes, who moved into United’s Fish Creek community about two years ago, like the concept of living independently while enjoying the programming and amenities in the community. Jean, who is a professional artist, would often drive with Dean to the mountains to paint. Today, United’s programming has been put on hold and residents are asked to stay in their suites.  Like everyone these days, they are also not leaving the community, except for essential trips like groceries or necessary medical appointments.

“Not being able to get away, even for a few days, is a disappointment for us,” said Jean. “We would often go to Canmore or Lake Louise in the spring and again in the fall, and spend a week painting and enjoying the scenery. But with the concerns around COVID-19, we are reluctant to expose ourselves to the usually crowded conditions in these popular tourist towns, so we’ve had to change our routine.”

Jean painting Mount Rundle in Banff National Park

Jean painting Mount Rundle in Banff National Park

Jean's finished painting of Mount Rundle

…and the finished product

Jean, who has her paintings for sale in Collector’s Gallery in Inglewood and also in the Banff Springs Hotel, is grateful that she is able to continue to paint at home. They chose their suite based on the north sunlight she needs for her work. “Under normal circumstances, I really like to start my paintings on location by being outside near the mountains and rivers. Then I bring them home and finish them here. Dean is very supportive. When we travelled, he would help carry my materials and act as a buffer when curious tourists came over to where I’m working and inadvertently come too close. But it’s natural for people to be interested in seeing how an artist makes a painting. Dean kept a close eye out for wildlife, especially bears! When summer comes, if we’re still confined to the community, it would be psychologically very difficult. Old habits die hard!”

Jean says that what she misses most are their friends. “We have friends in the community that we can’t easily visit with. We have a social room and a dining room with great food where we used to gather with friends a few times each week for dinner, but which is now closed to dining service. At some point, we will need to be able to find different ways to socialize and get back to a normal life.”

But Jean recognizes the severity of the situation and is making the best of what she has available. “Change can be positive, so it forces us to be creative and find new ways to stay active and, for me, to keep the way I approach my art interesting. I miss my artist friends around the city, but we are finding ways to socialize without getting together. Communication is really important.”

Jean and Dean’s family are very supportive, bringing them groceries and other necessities. They also speak regularly with family and friends using the computer and phone. One of United’s staff members will get them set up on FaceTime soon, which will give them even more access to friends and family. They might even try using free video conferencing programs such as Zoom.

Jean and Dean Geddes share a laugh in their suite

Jean and Dean Geddes share a laugh in their suite

While current restrictions are difficult, Jean and Dean understand why they are needed. “It’s a tradeoff. There are restrictions, but we are also very well protected from anything coming into the building,” said Jean. “It’s a good feeling knowing that there are people doing everything they can to look out for us. I like that.”

Jean noted that because United is a small, Calgary company, it has the flexibility to make decisions quickly. “United is in the best position to protect us. They are Calgarians looking out for Calgarians. They have put several layers of protection in place to keep the virus out, so despite the inconvenience, we’re feeling very safe.”

Photos by Sherana Productions, Jean Geddes. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

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United’s Spring Program Guides are now available for downloading or viewing on our website (see links below). Created for each of the Fish Creek and Garrison Green communities, the guides reflect the dozens of programs and outings available to residents over the next three months. Each month, programs are offered around themes. The theme for March is Spark Curiosity. In  April, the theme is A World of Possibilities, and in May, Celebrating Our Humanity.

Along with the specialty programs pertaining to the themes, United communities offer regular ongoing programs that focus on health, community and creativity. Each guide contains more than 30 pages of interesting, informative and resident-focused programming.

“The programs and outings we offer residents are based on what the residents want,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development and creative expressions manager. “We work closely with our community partners to offer outings and in-house programs that residents find interesting, stimulating and educational. Some of the partnership highlights include talks by Calgary Philharmonic conductor Karl Hirzer and an in-house performance by Honens Laureate Roberto Plano. One very interesting program will be a makeup and costume demonstration by Calgary Opera.”

Outings to Calgary Philharmonic concerts, exhibitions at museums and art galleries, shows at the Calgary Opera and Lunchbox Theatre and more are offered regularly. In-house concerts and lectures are also regular opportunities and we have a wide range of people and professions to share their knowledge and talents with us. From Mount Royal University professors, members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and the Calgary Civic Symphony, and lectures from local historians, there is truly something for everyone.

Members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra will perform at Garrison Green

Members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra will perform at Garrison Green

“Our partnership with Mount Royal University and the Conservatory brings residents a wide variety of performances that you won’t find anywhere else,” said Monica Schmidt, program development coordinator, Garrison Green. “For instance, we’ll enjoy a performance from Mount Royal’s speech arts and drama students, a CPO performance, a concert from the Kantorei Choir and a performance by members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra. United has almost a dozen community partners that provide residents with a wide variety of experiences. Over the next three months, residents will have a large number of programs to choose from that promote lifelong learning, music, art, education and community connections.”

If you’re considering a move to an older adult community, lifestyle options are an important part of your decision. Take a look through the program guides and you’ll see that United offers something truly unique and exciting.

Here are the links to the guides for Fish Creek and Garrison Green.

Photos by Calgary Jazz Orchestra, Calgary Opera. Videos by Sherana Productions.

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Hans Pols with his art piece, Rocky Mountain Bound

Hans Pols with his art piece, Rocky Mountain Bound

One United resident, with suggestions along the way from other residents and staff, put his creativity into high gear to create this year’s Christmas card. At the time, Hans Pols, who lives at United’s Fish Creek community, simply set out to make a mountain scene from folded paper. But the result captured the Christmas spirit so well that the work is being used as this year’s Christmas card.

“To be chosen was certainly a first for me!” said Hans. “I was really taken aback. When you see the spectacular works of art that hang in our gallery, you know there is a tremendous amount of talent here. I was blown away that they had chosen mine.”

Hans loves the mountains and has always wanted to either live in them or in a province that has them. He chose to live at United’s Fish Creek. “United has a terrific art studio and professional staff and they introduced me to a variety of mediums, including pastels, ceramics and paper collage. Paper was easy to work with for the image I had in mind,” said Hans. One of the suggestions from the creative facilitators was to first create a sketch book. “It’s really interesting to see how an initial idea on page 1 progresses to a near-final idea on page 30. I was really pleased at how this image came together. It was a very rewarding experience.”

The back of the Christmas card explains how the collage evolved. “Hans started this work with a clean slate, with no preconceived idea of the end product, but wanted something whimsical, playful and fanciful. He began making evergreen trees by layering triangles and it grew to a unique yet recognizable depiction of the Rocky Mountains.”

Just one of many decorated doors for the season

Just one of many decorated doors for the season

Christmas is an entertaining time at United’s two communities. Residents and staff at Fish Creek and Garrison Green decorated the Christmas trees, held a decorated door contest, created a number of Christmas-themed paintings and other art projects and attended Christmas concerts and other programs that celebrate the season. And then there is the special, chef-inspired Christmas dinners for residents and their families.

Christmas is a great time to get together with friends and family, so from our families to you, we wish you the best of the season, Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

Photos by United Active Living. Video by Sherana Productions

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Honens Prize Laureate Nicolas Namoradze performs for residents

Honens Prize Laureate Nicolas Namoradze performs for residents

Listening to an exceptionally talented pianist or putting a paintbrush to canvas touch only a small part of the extensive list of programs that United offers the residents of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. Thanks to United’s partnerships, residents will be heading out to see the St. Mary’s University Choir, Calgary Civic Symphony, Lunchbox Theatre, Mount Royal Conservatory’s Sounds of the Season, Calgary Jazz Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. Some high-calibre performances will be coming to United’s theatres as well. On top of all that, both communities will be hosting a door decorating contest as well as multiple bus tours of Calgary’s best Christmas light displays. Due in large part to these many and various programs and events, there is much for residents to enjoy over the course of the chilly winter months.

“Aging in an engaged and creative way opens the doors to so many new experiences and social connections. We’re finding that age is no barrier to creativity,” said Kim Coulter, United’s creative expressions manager. “United provides the right atmosphere and opportunity for residents to express themselves. Our philosophy is to encourage residents to do that through the arts: singing, music, drawing, painting, dance, pottery and sculpture, plus the opportunity to attend professional and amateur performances both outside the community and in our own theatres.”

Resident Mary Fenwick performs with the Calgary Youth Orchestra

Resident Mary Fenwick performs with the Calgary Youth Orchestra

United’s extensive list of programs, including specialty programs and events, partnership events with many of Calgary’s art and cultural organizations and regular programs, sets United apart.

“At United, being creative isn’t a hobby or a way to pass the time. It’s a way of life,” said Monica Schmidt, program coordinator at United’s Garrison Green community. “We have professional artists on staff who provide support for every level, from those who have never picked up a brush or a handful of clay, to residents who were attracted to United because they can continue their lifelong passion for art.”

 

 

Resident Con Irving's owl carving hangs in the Fish Creek art gallery

Resident Con Irving’s owl carving hangs in the Fish Creek art gallery

United has fully stocked art studios at both Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities, plus art galleries to display resident artworks as well as showings of professional work. Not only is it fun, but expression through the  arts can have health benefits researchers are just starting to understand.

As well, participation in the arts encourages connecting with others and making new friends – a cornerstone of United’s philosophy. Research shows that older adults who are the most socially engaged remain healthy and active. Communities develop when people get to make their own choices and when residents are active, learning new things and participating in community events that they find interesting and stimulating.

United’s comprehensive guides of upcoming specialty and ongoing programs at both communities are available online. Each contains about 40 pages of programs so that residents and their families can see what’s available and make plans to participate. Monica says, “Working together with other departments, the creative team is able to brainstorm unique themes to guide programming ideas for each month. In this way, we are able to avoid falling into a rut of repetitive offerings month after month and instead, keep our programming fresh and interesting.”

Both guides are online at these links:

Garrison Green program link

Fish Creek program link

“When you see everything written down in one location, you realize just how extensive the programs are,” said Kim. “It’s what makes living in a United community exciting and fun. There’s always something new and the programs are changing and evolving all the time based on resident input.”

Photos by Sherana Productions, United Active Living, Mount Royal Conservatory.
Video by Sherana Productions

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Resident Kay Kuwahara checks out the merchandise

Resident Kay Kuwahara checks out the merchandise

The annual fibre arts sale at United’s Garrison Green community raised about $1,200 for four Calgary charities. The sale ran for two days last week and sold a wide range of hand-made gifts produced by more than a dozen residents – all members of the Fibre Arts Club.

The residents knitted, crocheted, cross-stitched and quilted to produce hundreds of one-of-a-kind items perfect for Christmas giving.

Trudy Martin, who has lived at Garrison Green for four years, said the club is a great way to make friends and introduce new residents to the community. “The club is a great part of this community. Some of us are here alone, so there’s a social aspect. And to be able to do what I love and create something useful, I think that’s terrific.”

Trudy Martin gets a table ready for the sale

Trudy Martin gets a table ready for the sale

Trudy’s specialty is knit shopping bags, which were a big hit at the sale. Her daughter, Rose Thomas, often comes into Calgary and helps at the club and at the sale.

Resident Louise Dean has been at Garrison Green for a year and a half. This was her first sale. “It went very well. A sale like this is an excellent idea. It’s nice to see our work put to good use. I contributed scarves, hats and dishcloths. The very first person I met when I was thinking about moving in was Trudy, and she asked ‘Do you knit?’ I said I crochet, so she immediately invited me to the Fibre Arts Club. It’s a great way to make new friends.”

The club holds two sales a year, with all money raised going to four charities they support – Children’s Cottage SocietyWomen in Need Society, the Calgary Food Bank and the Women’s Centre Calgary.

Each charity will receive $325 from last week’s sale, with unsold items also donated.

Ask us about our short-term respite stays and other short-stay options.

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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Anthony and Rolande Parel with one of Rolande's paintings

Anthony and Rolande Parel with one of Rolande’s paintings

Choosing to live at United’s Garrison Green was a natural one for Rolande Parel and husband Anthony. United’s art programs and well-equipped art studio allowed Rolande to continue to focus on her artwork.

She learned to paint as a child while under the watchful eye of several of the prestigious Group of Seven painters who were interested in encouraging artistically talented children. Eventually, she found she had a natural talent, which she continues to put to use in her new home.

“My family moved from Montreal to Vancouver when I was in grade one,” said Rolande. “I took the ferry to Victoria every Saturday morning to attend a children’s art school, which was supported by members of the Group of Seven. They weren’t famous at the time, but I remember I used to paint floral pictures a certain way, which they liked and encouraged.”

The Group of Seven were among Canada’s most famous artists. They came together in 1920 and continued until 1933.

When the members of the Group of Seven weren’t available, their wives taught the classes. “When my family returned to Montreal a couple of years later, J.E.H. MacDonald’s widow gave me three postcards of his and other members’ paintings, wishing me the best in my art pursuits. Those postcards are among my most treasured possessions.” While in Montreal Rolande continued to follow her interest in painting at the Montreal Museum of Art where Arthur Lismer, also of the Group of Seven, directed the classes.

In those early years, and for a short time after, Rolande modelled her painting style after the Group of Seven, who developed a unique Canadian landscape style. Eventually she became a teacher, and taught art classes, as well as other subjects, at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir school in Okotoks, and later for the Calgary Separate School Board. “However, I always used my artistic training as part of my teaching method as a way to illustrate concepts,” said Rolande.

Rolande's painting of Castle Mountain

Rolande’s painting of Castle Mountain

She learned about United’s approach to the creative arts while visiting Garrison Green with a friend, who was lecturing on creative aging. “We came to live here in 2018 after I broke my hip. We couldn’t live in our home anymore because of the stairs. We looked for a place that had an art room that was cozy and welcoming,” she said.

“I started with the techniques I learned as a child, but when I came here I felt free to expand and develop my own style. It was United’s creative facilitators, who are all trained artists, who were instrumental in challenging me to express myself beyond what I had been doing.”

United has been described by another resident as “heaven for artists”. Rolande agrees, and she has developed deep friendships with several other artists. Their circle is growing as more people show an interest in developing their creativity. “You can’t teach creativity. It comes from within,” said Rolande. “But you can create an atmosphere where it is able to flourish. The facilitators provide such an atmosphere.” 

Many of Rolande's paintings deck the halls at Garrison Green

Many of Rolande’s paintings deck the halls at Garrison Green

Rolande continues to paint whatever strikes her imagination. “Sometimes I’ll go back to the Group of Seven style I grew up with, and I’ll paint a landscape or flowers. Other times it will be interesting things my children or grandchildren are doing – a snowball fight or a dance class. When you have a scene in your imagination and it comes out the way you think it should, that is very satisfying.”

For Rolande, that feeling of making her imagination come to life never gets old.

 

 

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Photos and video by Sherana Productions

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