Beautifying Beechwood

The sun was shining on October 19th and the air was crisp with the changing season. Inside the Beechwood Place and Court retirement community in Mississauga, Ontario, the air was full of a different kind of change. Different, but just as beautiful.

John Bleecker, 84 and Eileen Thomson, 87, help The Honourable Sophia Aggelonitis, MPP and Minister Responsible for Seniors, and Revera CEO Jeff Lozon cut the ribbon at Tuesday’s Grand Opening event at The Beechwood Retirement Community in Mississauga.

For the past 18 months, Beechwood's residents have lived among the hum of sanders, the fumes of fresh paint, and the hammering of nails as their home underwent a complete makeover "from  top to bottom," according to Jeff Lozon, CEO of Revera Inc., which manages the Beechwood.

"They've been very patient and loyal during the construction,"  he said at the Grand Opening, where residents were finally able to enjoy their new surroundings. Many sipped wine or orange juice and nibbled hors d'oeuvres and trays of chocolates while listening to the new Grand Piano in the lobby or the jazz band in the new dining area.  "This is a facility that's been here over 20 years, it was time [for a renovation].  Hopefully it won't change the community  very much, it's just a more pleasant living environment."

Gwyn Matthews, 84, a resident of Revera’s The Beechwood Retirement Community in Mississauga, plays the piano with Mayor Hazel McCallion Tuesday at the Residence’s Grand Opening.

Renovations include all common areas (lobby, activity areas, library, lounges, dining rooms, and corridors), energy efficient heating and cooling, and new furniture in every suite. The whole project cost about 3.5 million dollars. But Lozon said it's the little details that make the biggest difference, like dining chairs that can move easily and aisles with plenty of room for walkers. And it seems the residents to agree.

"What a nice place, man!" one woman expressed to her friend as they strolled towards the elegant dining room, coincidentally where chocolate-covered strawberries and mini-cheesecakes awaited them.

"I feel really lucky," said Alberta Andrews, 94, who has lived here for two years.

"It's a great improvement," said John Doherty, a three-and-a-half-year resident. And the renovations? "They were a bit noisy, but it wasn't too bad."

Mayor Hazel McCallion at the Beechwood.

Residents were joined by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to celebrate the facelift, as well as MPP and Minister Responsible for Seniors, the Honourable Sophia Aggelonitis, and mayor of Mississauga, Her Worship,  Hazel McCallion.

"What a beautiful home away from home," the exuberant McCallion greeted the crowd (to which Doherty responded with a resounding "You got that right!"). "It's so important that the private sector take on this responsibility [of providing care for seniors], because we all know they can do it more efficiently and more effectively than the government."

Dressed in a bright blue suit, McCallion chatted with the residents before going on a tour of the Beechwood Place and the Beechwood Court, the residence's home for long-term care. Meanwhile, other guests chatted, laughed, and relaxed on plush couches and armchairs in the lobby, waited on by servers in black and white and surrounded by paintings of landscapes and vases of fresh flowers. Resident Gwynne Matthews also delighted her housemates with one of her famous piano concerts. She was later joined by McCallion herself, who commended the facility and its staff for providing a happy, comfortable, safe environment for seniors, "the foundation of this country."

"You all  look so happy. What do they feed you to make you look so happy? Because I want  the menu!"

Photos by Hugh Wesley.

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