January’s community kitchen happened during Lunar New Year this year, so we decided to make a Chinese themed meal. We might have gone a little overboard with the number of dishes – but everyone got pretty excited and there were so many suggestions!
We ended up with this menu:
Potstickers (shrimp and chicken)
Fried fish with homemade sweet and sour sauce
Chinese Tomato Egg Stir-fry
Ma Po Tofu (beef)
Fried Rice (veg)
Chow Mein (veg)
Dessert was Mango Pudding!
Much thanks to volunteer Chris who made the mango pudding in advance and was so helpful with sourcing the wontons and potstickers (we didn’t have time to make those ourselves).
It was a feast. We made lots of food so folks could have seconds (and thirds!). “Another delicious meal,” said one participant. “Finally, something with spice and flavour!” said another resident. We don’t always do spicy dishes, but when so many options, we made the Ma Po Tofu dish with some decent spice levels and it was a real winner!
We just had another successful ‘Gift Giving Event’. This is the second year we have organized this event on its own. Years ago we started doing it as part of our annual Christmas party but it just got too big, too much to do both. The concept turned out to be popular.
The idea is that the CARMA team provides a selection of items laid out on tables, at the right level for a person in a wheelchair to view. We buy, or acquire through donations, a big range of items from chocolates, scarves, bracelets to kids items. Residents wheel around all the tables, with a volunteer to help them shop – though everything is free, they get to browse and choose gifts to give loved ones. Then we have a gift wrapping area and card writing section. Residents come away with cards and gifts to give or mail to friends and family.
Many residents do not shop much out in the community – the barriers to regular shopping are both physical (wheelchair doesn’t fit into store aisles) and emotional (it can be uncomfortable to deal with able bodied folks with no patience for you). As well, the time it takes to go out to a shopping area can take the whole day, which can be exhausting. Online shopping works for some, but it is still nice to be able to see an item up close before deciding to get it as a gift.
One of the things that can happen to a person who starts receiving care and has little opportunity to give is that they miss giving. It is an essential part of being human. It feels good to give. This event may be simple and small but the effect can be profound. A resident who was sending gifts to all her grandkids expressed such joy in selecting gifts for each child, and labeling the wrapped gift with their name. She said “This year, the grandkids will be so excited to see a gift from Grandma! It makes me so happy”.
There have been some windy days lately and some of the heavy bean trellises have been blown over. No matter, it’s time to clean them up anyhow. While we leave the leeks, kale and carrots in the ground for harvest later – most things are cut down and composted and the beds put to ‘rest’.
And this year we grew popcorn! Not a vast amount, but a nice colourful bunch.
Today we attended a memorial for a fine woman who had resided at Pearson since the 1980s – Jackie B.
It is usually the case that you learn something new about a person at their memorial. Sometimes you wish they were still here so you could talk to them about it. But you know that you can’t know everything about anyone, and we must accept that sometimes it’s after they are gone that you learn something new, and it’s another way to remember them.
I learned today that Jackie loved the beach and swimming in the ocean. She didn’t get to do much of that after her accident but she still loved it. It’s nice to know that about her.
One thing I know about her is that she loved sweet peas. She had a garden here at GPC and that’s mostly what she wanted to grow. Sweet peas have the most heavenly fragrance but they last only briefly once cut.
Jackie was a straight shooter with an excellent sense of humour. We will miss her dearly.
Her obituary is here: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/en-ca/obituaries/vancouver-bc/jasmin-balleny-8788695
Due to a backup issue, we lost the blog entries from 2018 and the first half of 2019. But rest assured, the residents of George Pearson Centre are still here. There is the rumble of trucks in the far corner of the property, as the redevelopment begins – two towers will slowly grow on the corner of 59th and Cambie. Expected completion date is early 2023. Some residents of GPC will move there, some will stay. For now, we are still here.
Recently, in late October, the City of Vancouver announced that they would be building temporary modular housing next door to George Pearson Centre, at the corner of Heather and W 59th Ave. The space has been unused lawn for as long as anyone can remember.
For Pearson folks, it was a bit shocking to learn about something as a done deal, without any prior consultation. But we understand that housing the homeless is something few people advocate for in their back yard. In fact, a lot of the neighbours are protesting against it.
From the City’s website: “Our next housing development will be home to two, three-storey buildings; each with 39 homes (total of 78 homes) for homeless residents….Both buildings will be managed by Community Builders, an experienced supportive and low-income housing provider with 15 years of experience in Vancouver’s urban core area specializing in tenant support for persons with a variety of needs.”
At the recent November 14th Resident Council meeting, George Pearson Centre residents discussed this new development, which is expected to spring up very quickly, to house people this coming winter. Residents have some concerns about what new neighbours will bring, but no one suggested that this shouldn’t happen. We discussed inviting the new neighbours to events at Pearson. Everyone needs a home, said a resident.
It was heart warming to learn that some nearby high school students are standing up for this development, as well. Read more here and here.
On July 20, 2017, three GPC Residents were able to go and speak at the City of Vancouver’s public hearing on the rezoning application.
Several more were heard in a new method – pre-recorded video contribution. This enabled people who would not otherwise be heard, to speak up. Many who live at George Pearson Centre cannot easily attend an hours-long hearing in person. Kudos to the City for allowing a new form of contribution – we hope it continues.
It is unfortunate that there were no GPC residents present at the 2014 Pearson Dogwood Policy Statement hearing at the City. Their voices were missed, and decisions were made that appear to exclude the wishes of the most vulnerable residents. While the independent housing is welcomed by many, those who prefer larger group living similar to the current Pearson model are left without a home on this site.
The redevelopment planning continues for the land on which George Pearson Centre sits. In 2016, members of Resident Council became concerned that very few residents were directly engaged in the planning. It is a complex process that is inherently difficult for Pearson residents to be a part of without various kinds of support.
So, Resident Council asked VCH to fulfill its commitment made in the policy plan to consult and collaborate with Pearson residents as part of the planning process. As a result, VCH has facilitated two open houses, several focus groups and some one-on-one interviews. There will be two reports – Part 1 gathers feedback on Housing Design, while Part 2 looks at the Care Models.
Pearson’s Garden Club grew another giant pumpkin this year. We received the seedlings from a volunteer’s friend and started a friendly plant competition. One pumpkin pulled ahead in the race for biggest size. When harvested, the Great Pearson Pumpkin weighed 340 lbs. After we chopped the pumpkin up (which took considerable time and effort) some was given away for baking, cooking etc.
John Nyce was our friend and neighbour. He moved into Pearson when he was 16 years old. He passed away on Feb 27th, just 5 days after his 55th birthday. He is missed by many of us.
John was a caring fellow. He always asked you “How are you?” He had a speech impediment, so some people had trouble understanding him at first, but he was patient and would repeat himself until you understood. One thing we all remember about John is his laughter — he loved joking around and was quick to laugh. Another thing we remember is that he loved drinking Coca-Cola.
Nowadays, people of such a young age don’t move to Pearson. But in the 1970s, things were different. People remember John as a mischievous youngster with a great sense of humour, and that he would hide when it came time for him to go to ‘school’, like many children do.
John used to travel on his own up to Oakridge mall, about 16 blocks from Pearson. There was some concern at some point that he wasn’t safe doing that, and some people starting worrying him about going there. So John started going to Metrotown mall, which is about 60 blocks away, in the next City over (Burnaby), and involves taking public transit. He wasn’t afraid of adventure, that’s for sure!
Something else that John was passionate about was Soccer. He had a specialized attachment on his wheelchair that enabled him to play Powerchair Football, also known as Power Soccer. Here John had one of his many friend circles — Powerchair Football Canada wrote a blog post on March 16, 2016 in memory of him as well. He was their longest running athlete!
John Nyce’s memorial was on Saturday April 2nd. The family came to Pearson. Some live in Vancouver, but many of them traveled a long distance to come share this time with us. John and his family are from the the Nisga’a nation — their village is Gitwinksihlkw, and they are the “People of the Lizards.” It is about 100 km north of Terrace. Staff and residents really appreciated the family coming such a long way, so we could remember John together at his home of the last 39 years.
John’s memorial was attended by many residents and staff. The family presented GPC a handmade wooden plaque thanking staff for the care they gave John for the 39 years he lived here. The plaque will be located on Ward 6 for now, John’s local neighbourhood, and it will likely go into the Activity Wing at a later time for all to view.
Being part of the Pearson Community means dealing with a higher rate of death than the outside community. Some people who move here are in a more fragile health state, and it’s usually not surprising when someone with complex serious health issues passes away. But Pearson is also home to long term residents — and when they pass away it has a significant impact on the staff and other residents. We are glad to have known John Nyce and will remember him fondly.