On Friday, the Beth Donovan Hospice announced the purchase of their “Forever Home” on French Settlement Road, as reported on our front page this week. The 3,100 square foot building is on 5 acres of land and will allow the hospice to centralize all their programs and services in fall of 2016.
I first caught wind of this news through Facebook. Upon reading their announcement, I found out that the purchase was made possible by donors who have contributed to their building fund over the past twenty years, but particularly through the generous bequest of a long term friend of the Hospice, Audrey McClenaghan. This name stopped me in my tracks. I live in old town Kemptville, in a small house on Asa Street that my husband bought from a lady named Audrey in 2013. Yes. The same Audrey whose generosity made the new location of the Beth Donovan Hospice a reality.
I unfortunately never got to meet Audrey, but, according to Executive Director of Beth Donovan Hospice, Dawn Rodger, she was an incredible lady who felt very strongly about their work. She attended all their community events and their annual general meetings. Dawn says she was very well read and involved in the library, and she even planned her own 80th birthday party. No matter what physical limitations old age threw at her, she met them with positivity and grace. “She had a great spirit,” says Dawn.
Not only do I feel extremely grateful to live in a house that such an amazing woman called home, it also made me reflect about the community I am learning more and more about each day. North Grenville is full of so many great resources: Beth Donovan Hospice, the Kemptville Youth Centre, Kemptville and District Home Support, and the Kemptville General Hospital, just to name a few, and people behind these organizations who care deeply about them. Every story that I write and event that I attend solidifies the fact that there is an incredible number of passionate people in North Grenville who are committed to doing whatever they can to further their cause and make a difference in the community. Take Robin Heald, Executive Director at the Kemptville Youth Centre, for example. At the Share the Love information sessions last Monday, I was struck by her fervour for bringing the services needed for homeless youth to Kemptville. Not only is running the Kemptville Youth Centre her job, it is her passion.
With every new service group and organization that I am introduced to, I meet some compassionate and caring people who work tirelessly behind the scenes. I grew up in the big city of Toronto, where there are undoubtedly more resources and services than we have in North Grenville, yet the heart that I have witnessed in this community is incomparable and it is what makes the organizations here incredibly strong. I love the city and honestly I never thought I would live in rural Ontario. I went to journalism school at Carleton, met a boy from Kemptville in Ottawa, fell in love and here I am. Even though living in a rural community was never in my life plan, the two years that I have lived here have shown me how vibrant small town life can be. There is always something going on, and someone that is trying to make a difference. Thanks to my job, I am meeting new people all the time, making connections and feeling more and more a part of the community.
Audrey left so much of herself in her house, from a paper sign that reminded her to turn off the lights (which we have yet to take down), to a handmade ironing board that folds out of the wall. It is a house that has been thoroughly lived in and loved, and knowing a little bit more about the awesome lady who lived there makes it that much more special. Not only am I proud to live in Audrey McClenaghan’s house, I am also proud to live in a community where there is truly an Audrey at every corner.