Community unites to build new Eastern Townships seniors' residence

The newly opened Grace Village home in the Eastern Townships gives more longterm care options in English in a region where such facilities are few and far between.

$14 million facility built thanks to private donations from the community

The new Grace Village retirement home had a concert on the day it welcomed its residents. (CBC)

The paint was barely dry on a 120-room seniors' residence in the Eastern Townships when its first occupants started moving in this week. 

The reaction from the residents of the new Grace Village home in Huntingville has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It's wonderful, I had no trouble sleeping," said resident Joan Mills.

"I love to be able to look out into the garden, " said Joyce Clayton-Standish.

The residents are mostly from the old Grace Village home, in Lennoxville, as well as North Hatley's Connaught Home. When the Quebec government announced new regulations for seniors' residences in 2015, the board of the Massawippi retirement communities, which administers both homes, was faced with a difficult choice — renovate, or rebuild.

They decided to go with the latter option and capitalize on the opportunity to provide residents with better amenities and increase the capacity of the home, counting on the community to help them create a new, up-to-date facility.

Community steps in

Faced with a steep cost to bring old buildings up to code, the board of the Massawippi Retirement Communities decided to reach out to its community to build the new, state-of-the-art Grace Village complex. 

Of the $14 million needed to build the Huntingville facility, they were able to raise $9.6 million since April 2016.

Andrea Eastman, director of human resources at Grace Village, said the community has been generous in helping them reach their fundraising goal. (CBC)
"Our community has really stepped up," said Andrea Eastman, director of human resources at Grace Village.

Once the fundraising goal is achieved, the foundation running the private, non-subsidized home will turn its attention back to the old Connaught Home, which it plans to convert to an apartment building that will house 26 suites for seniors.

The foundation is also planning to build 12 duplexes adjacent to the new Grace Village site. The suites will be reserved for autonomous seniors, primarily from the anglophone community, giving more longterm care options in English in a region where such facilities are few and far between.

The new digs

The new facility has 120 rooms, up from 80 in the old building, divided into four wings.

It includes nursing stations, a fully equipped central kitchen where meals are prepared for each wing's dining room, a hair salon, spa, and two interior courtyards featuring gardens and landscapes.

Resident Marcel Sévigny said he couldn't believe how "beautiful his room was."

He uses a wheelchair and was quick to point out how much more room he has to move around in the new facility.