Armstrong’s Heaton Place Retirement Community was in need of masks and North Okanagan communities answered, resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill said May 26, 2020. (Heaton Place)

Armstrong’s Heaton Place Retirement Community was in need of masks and North Okanagan communities answered, resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill said May 26, 2020. (Heaton Place)

Armstrong retirement home overwhelmed with kindness amid COVID-19

A need of masks resulted in an outpouring of kindness from North Okanagan communities

Kindness and compassion come in many different forms: making room in your heart and your life for a new friend, doing something nice for someone without being asked, taking time to listen to someone who may need to vent, and acknowledging another’s efforts or accomplishments are all acts that Heaton Place Retirement Community resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill sees daily.

Studies show that being kind and even observing kindness can create a ripple effect of happiness. Most recently, O’Neill witnessed a ‘snowball’ effect of kind acts pouring in from the community and surrounding areas.

On Thursday, May 14, an email came in from Vernon Morning Star reporter Brendan Shykora, O’Neill said.

“Brendan was the young man who went above and beyond to have our three Second World War Veterans voices’ heard this past November through sharing their stories,” she said.

This is where the first act of kindness started.

“Little did we know that it would snowball into many acts of kindness,” O’Neill said.

Shykora was inquiring into how Heaton Place residents were fairing during COVID-19 times and wondered if there was anything the residents needed.

“I simply replied that we are looking for masks for all of our seniors to have as we slowly transition into a ‘new normal,’” O’Neill said.

“By the end of the day, I received a phone call from a lady in Summerland that informed me she saw our ad that we were looking for masks and she was a part of a quilters club and would be putting 35 masks into the mail immediately!”

“I had no idea Brendan had put a shout out with the Vernon Morning Star on behalf of Heaton Place!”

Since then, the phones have been ringing and the masks are pouring in, O’Neill said.

“There are angels among us! Summerland, Kamloops, Vernon, Armstrong are but a few places that these angels live. Many thanks to you all!”

Despite the challenges that have come from COVID-19, there have been many positives, O’Neill said.

As we begin to slowly transition to open things up, Heaton Place is now able to do tours and have those who wish to move in do so with strict protocols in place.

Heaton Place has recently been given the gift of a moving company working closely and solely with the retirement community.

“Sherlock Moving has been outstanding in adhering to strict protocols, while at the same time bringing their compassionate and humorous personalities into the facility while conducting quick and effective work,” O’Neill said.

The Armstrong community continues to show up in anonymous ways, she said.

“We have painted rocks with hearts and positive quotes all around our building. Our Heaton hair stylists, despite not being able to work, came by with a banner saying ‘we love you’, and the families of our residents are stopping by to say thank you with chocolates.”

“The work we do here at Heaton Place is a gift to each of us,” O’Neill said. “What we give to our residents always comes back in abundance. Maya Angelou says it best, ‘I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.’”

This article was contributed to the Morning Star from Heaton Place Retirement Community resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill.

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