Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Valentine's to Remember

{cake by nadine of femme fondants}

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but the memory of that day will forever be locked in my heart.  When I think about Valentine’s Day, I think about my grandmother, Nana.  Its not because I have memories of celebrating the red and pink day with her as a child,  I think of her because every time I hear her tell me stories about Papa, my grandfather, I can still feel the love she felt for him, 20+ years after his death.  So when February 14th approaches, I wonder how she feels, what she thinks about, and it makes me wonder about other seniors too. 

When I decided to do this project, 40 philanthropic acts this year, throwing a party for seniors on Valentine’s Day was one of the first ideas to hit the list.  Its a wonderful day for children, an excuse to bake heart shaped goodies, a chance to tell someone you love them….but I always wonder, what kind of day is it for seniors?

I had all these ideas, the party planner in me, and I could visualize what the day would be like, so I solicited the help of my friend, Dianne, to research a few Seniors Homes here in Halifax.  She recommended Glades Lodge, a place her daughter had performed at a few years back.  We could have chosen from a long list of nursing homes in the Halifax area, but something told me that contacting Glades Lodge was the right decision.  My initial contact led me to Anna Ordinelli, the Administrator for Glades Lodge.  

Glades Lodge Long Term Care Centre, part of the Gem Health Care Group, is a 124 bed nursing home facility.  They focus on building a human habitat for their residents that allows for the regular, spontaneous moments in life. They strive to create a place for "lifting spirits and touching lives."

Anna got me in touch with Monique Natividad, Director of Recreation.  The first time I spoke to Monique, I was blown away by the amazing Valentine’s Day plans they already had in place.  I was relieved knowing that these seniors were going to be treated to a day that could fill their hearts with love.  It was obvious that they made Valentine’s day a priority, even crowning a Valentine’s King and Queen!  And with all their special plans in place, she agreed to let us come and add a little something extra…

I knew there was only one thing we had to have in the plans…...children.  When my Nana says, “kiss my babies!”, I know that it’s the connection between these generations that can bring smiles into a room.  My own children were very keen to participate and with the help of a few friends we knew we could make this a very special day for some very special people.  

Once again, Jen Partridge {Partridge Photography} captured every detail....but she did something more, she captured the emotions from our memorable day.

{lending a hand...}

Dianne found an easy craft we could prepare ahead of time that would be a fun team effort for the children and seniors; a Valentine wreath to hang on their door.  The kids helped me pick out fun decorations for the wreath, glitter paints, etc.  Blythe suggested we make name tags for everyone, what a great idea!  One evening Yale and Fleur cut out hearts traced by Dianne, I was very impressed.

It had to feel like a Valentine’s Party, not just a craft activity!  So I got to work on some decorations, a mini dessert table, and special surprises.  Sally, from Polka Dot Market, came to the rescue with a quickly shipped order of polka dot balloons, in all the right colors!  Nadine, of Femme Fondantsmade the beautiful polka dot cake with the heart topper, to be used as our centerpiece (she gladly helped me out with only 4 days notice).  I loved making special heart sequin t-shirts for the little friends who came to help, they all looked adorable!  The crocheted caps with flowers that my girls wore, were custom made by Banner Boutique, one more detail to make everything special.

It didn’t take long before everyone was busy on his or her craft.  The kids were helping attach hearts and rhinestones and ribbons.  Blythe had circled the room to get names for the name tags.  I was amazed by her confidence and her patience.  At one point I stopped, and just watched the activity in the room….it was beautiful.  Yale had made a friend in a woman named Gwen; she let him do her craft for her, giving instructions here and there.  When I walked by to check on them she said, “he is so happy”, and with a tear in her eye, “it makes me happy.”

The children helped pass out goodies from the dessert table; donut pops, strawberries, chocolate covered bread sticks, and red punch. The heart wand bubble tubes were a huge hit!  I loved watching the children teach the seniors how to blow the bubbles at each other….you couldn’t count the smiles in the room. 

Every one of these seniors made us smile or laugh, we all felt so happy to be there.  But one lady stole my heart, and created a special little bond with Blythe.  In fact, we teased the staff at the end of the party, saying "Can we take Stella home with us?"

Before saying goodbye, every senior was given a pink tulip.  After the kids took pictures with the polka dot balloons they went into the lobby and handed them out or tied them to wheel chairs….more smiles.

We came to Glades Lodge to add a little extra sparkle to a day already filled with wonderful surprises.  But we left with a little sparkle too.  When I decide to do an act of kindness, I am thinking mostly of the person/s I am reaching out to and hoping that they will feel that I care…..but, when I receive back, more than I gave, it is a beautiful surprise.  
We were all touched by this experience.

Thank you Monique, Anna, and all the seniors at Glades Lodge for allowing us to share this special day with you.

We loved visiting Glades Lodge, and we are thrilled to know that we can return next year for another Valentine's Day!


  1. Your story and photos made me teary-eyed! This is my favorite event that you shared so far - and I'm so glad you were able to make the day so special for so many.

  2. What a great event!! I always think of you and the kids on Valentine's Day, it was such a fun day to be at your house :). Very sweet to see the impact the kids had on the seniors.

  3. what a lovely day for the residents and you all as well!

  4. I came by your blog through Take Me Outside, and I just want to say what an inspirational parent you are, to engage your children in such amazing life experiences. I hope the rest of your year is amazing.