To the winners go the spoils
From left, June Laughren, Keith Hannah, Maureen Deslauriers, Activity Directors Doris Leclerc and Rita Goulet, Co-owner/Managing Partner Eric Chartrand, Meredith Rombough, and Bill Cobourn pose in front of the crying baby faces that were printed off and pasted on the losing teams of the 2017 hockey pool poster. Two teams still remain and winners will split the $300 pot.       Sawyer Helmer photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Villager Staff
RUSSELL – Russell Meadows Retirement Community is no stranger to fun and engaging activities for their seniors. The annual playoff hockey pool is no different. What began in 2012 has turned into a yearly betting game for the residents. The cost is $2.00 per team with the option to choose as many teams as you’d like. With only two teams left, the residents still involved are on the edge of their seats. A number of names fill the Pittsburg slot while only a few have a bid on Nashville. This year’s pot will be $300 for the winners to share and having so many Canadian teams in the first round was a big help to getting seniors involved. In the first year of the pool, there was a single winner who walked away with a $100 pot.

Resident Maureen Deslauriers, who is running the pool, has been thrilled to see her fellow residents enjoying themselves. Deslauriers explained that the pool was easy to manage, making it a go-to yearly event. The only hurdle in the beginning she added was convincing her peers that the pool was all above board.

Teacher Leon MacIntyre, Ashley Dever, Elissa Lalonde and Renee Alexander take a pause before heading to work during their pre co-op placement at Russell Meadows Retirement Community. Sawyer Helmer photo

Last year, the losing teams received large capital Ls over their slot on the board but this year Deslauriers went with pictures of crying babies. This has been a big hit with the residents who can croon over the crying babies as they walk by. Doris Leclerc, one of the activity and recreational managers, said that it has been, “neat to see them [residents] enjoying themselves.”

The hockey pool is one of many activities that go on at Russell Meadows. Leclerc mentioned that there can be up to eight activities per day. These might include seniors yoga and daily workout sessions. The residence also has immense pride for their Remembering Me project and the Share Your Dream initiative.

Remembering Me is an ongoing legacy project documenting the seniors’ life stories while Share Your Dream is one of Leclerc’s pride and joy. The initiative has seen dozens of dreams come true over the years. Seniors can apply to the program and outline their dream –if selected Russell Meadows goes above and beyond making their dreams come true.

Leclerc explained that on the day of a dream, every resident gets involved in the excitement. Balloons and decorations are covered on the senior’s door. Announcements are made in the morning at breakfast and every detail is organized to perfection making the day special. Some of the notable dreams that have come true are: a visit to parliament with a private lunch in the MPs private dining room and a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau, an aerial tour of a resident’s old farm and the farmland across the Ottawa and Russell area, and a nine treatment spa day for a lady who had never been to a spa. These are only some of the dreams to come true. Last year, the residence made 15 dreams come true and this year there have been eight. Leclerc said, “It is a joy to share in other people’s dreams and we really care about each other here, we are a thriving community.”

And a thriving community it is. Russell Meadows is even involved outside of their seniors’ community. Students from the nearby schools at every age come to interact with the seniors. Leclerc and her co-manager Rita Goulet explained that the programs with the schools give the seniors a chance to have an influence on the next generation and feel as though they are making a difference in the future.

This is evident through the current three co-op students who are volunteering their time. Under the direction of their teacher Leon MacIntyre, the Russell High School students get to learn basic living skills to benefit their future. The hands-on learning approach can work wonders for students who struggle within school settings, explained MacIntyre. MacIntyre continued that Ellissa Lalonde, Grade 9, has shown a keen interest in cooking, Renee Alexander, Grade 10, has proved to be a great people person with the seniors, and Ashley Dever, Grade 12, has had the opportunity to interact with the seniors regularly helping him develop important skills for his future.

Russell Meadows is a community that is involved in more ways than one and is making a difference in many lives, even if there are a few cry-babies on the hockey pool board.