An initiative that aims to provide the elderly with companionship at Winchester’s Dundas Manor has made its way to the doorway of B&H.

To the right of the door as you exit the store sits a purple box on top of a barrel labeled Gloria’s Companion, asking for donations of previously loved jewelry.

Pat Watson came up with the idea for Gloria’s Companion after she saw how much having a weekly visitor helped her mother when she was a resident of Dundas Manor. Her mother, Gloria Thompson, came to the nursing home after her dementia had progressed to the point that she was no longer able to look after herself. Even though Pat lived near Westport, she decided Winchester was the best place for her because they had friends and family in the area. That being said, it was still hard for Pat, who was her primary caregiver, to know how she was doing on a weekly basis from so far away. A friend named Jennifer Chen, who already visited her mother on a regularly basis when she was living in a retirement home in Ottawa, offered to drive to Winchester 3 mornings a week to spend time with her. With her mother’s consent, Pat decided to start paying Jennifer for her time and she became the first Gloria’s Companion.

When her mother passed away in May, Pat decided to contact Dundas Manor with the idea of raising funds to provide a weekly visitor for residents of the manor who staff felt would benefit from the companionship. “The idea is to pay the companion for their time but to have little to no charge for the resident,” Pat says. A committee was formed and fundraising began. Unsure of how to proceed, Pat took inspiration from her mother’s love of jewelry to come up with their first fundraising initiative “Gloria’s Companion Bling and Bake Sale.” In October they held the sale at Dundas Manor and raised quite a bit of money in just a few hours. “It was wonderful,” Pat says.

Gloria’s Companion has already been able to fund a visit from Jennifer, who wanted to continue to act as a companion after Gloria’s death, once a week for two residents. “One of the women she goes to see has very advanced dementia and she still remembers that Jennifer is coming in and looks forward to it,” Pat says. “It’s really quite amazing how there has been a wonderful change in her since she has been coming in.”

Pat says it means a lot to her to see the Gloria’s Companion living on it her mother’s name.  “It’s wonderful to see it continuing even though she is gone.  It’s something that my mum would love to have been part of.”

Gloria’s Companion is in the process of collecting jewelry for the next “Bling and Bake Sale.”Jewelry that is dropped off at B&H is collected regularly and will be cleaned and appraised if necessary before it is sold. Jewellery is also being collected in the lobby of Dundas Manor.  The next fundraising event is a regular bake sale at Dundas Manor on Saturday May 28 from 10-12 pm. Monetary donations to Gloria’s Companion can also be made by sending a cheque to Gloria’s Companion at Dundas Manor (533 Clarence Street, Winchester, Ontario, K0C 2K0) c/o Pat Watson.

Photo: L-R Jennifer Chen and Gloria Thompson

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