Protest calls for reversal of decision on group homes
T.J. McDonald Achievement Home in Burin one of three facilities set to close
It was kind of ironic. While a protest against the closure of a group home in his district was occuring at his constituency office, Burin-Placentia West MHA Clyde Jackman was in the process of being shuffled by Premier Tom Marshall to the very department responsible for the change.
In one of several major moves Thursday, Mr. Jackman was shifted from the Department of Education and replaces Paul Davis as the new minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.
Following in the steps of Grand Falls-Windsor and Stephenville, where group home contracts have also changed hands to a privatelyowned company, Blue Sky Family Care, roughly 70 people attended a demostration in Burin over the lunch hour Thursday.
One after the next, speakers took to the microphone and called on Mr. Jackman to show his support for the people in his district, unaware that he was being shifted to the new portfolio.
The T.J. McDonald Achievement Home is among three similarlyoperated facilities in the province
During a recent telephone interview, Mr. Dennis said his wife, who he affectionately called Belle, used to love to walk the beach to be near the ocean and pick up rocks to bring back to her gardens.
“She was the architect and I was the labourer, but she’d work right along with me on many of the projects, and she enjoyed her gardens right up to the very end,” he said.
“My wife got some of the best care that she could have gotten anywhere from the doctors and nurses in this province. These people try everything to assist you and get you through it.”
Mr. Dennis became very lonely after he lost his life’s partner. He put their property on the market and moved back to his home province of Ontario to be near family.
However, it didn’t take him long to realize that Newfoundland was where he needed to be – back to the home and garden where he’d found comfort, peace and contentment.
“I was only up there about three weeks when I knew I wanted to be back here. We’d been coming to Newfoundland since 1960. It’s a nice quiet, country living. It’s home.”
Mr. Dennis contacted the real estate agent and asked that his home be taken off the market.
Once settled again in Newfoundland, he decided to open a bed and breakfast, which would allow him to share his late wife’s gardens with guests from all over the world.
While her brother continues to live in Ontario, Mrs. Ansell moved to Newfoundland almost a year ago to live with her father. While he tends the gardens, she looks after the financial aspect of the bed and breakfast.
“I wanted to be with him for the company and to give him a hand at the business,” she said.
By mid-May, there are usually about 2,000 daffodils in full bloom in various gardens on the property.
Mr. Dennis and his daughter came up with the idea of inviting people to come pick their own daffodils and make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Place in St. John’s. The first annual Come Pick a Daffodil event is scheduled at the bed and breakfast grounds this Saturday and Sunday.
During the fundraiser, tickets will also be sold on various items donated by local businesses with prize draw taking place 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The family is also hosting a barbecue, thanks to community support, from noon-4 p.m. each day.
Mr. Dennis said both he and wife stayed at Daffodil Place on many occasions when she was being treated for her cancer.
“The cancer patient and their spouse has the ability to relate to other people going through the same thing ... you are able to trade information, which is a great thing,” Mr. Dennis said of the benefits of the facility.
Mrs. Ansell said her mother was totally devoted to her family.
“Mom loved to knit and to sew. She was very economical. When I was little, the first bit of clothes that mom bought for me was when I was 13. Before then, she made all my clothes.”
Mrs. Ansell said Mother’s Day weekend is a great time to honour her mom’s memory and raise money to fight cancer.
“Some of my mom’s favourite people were from Daffodil Place in St. John’s. I know she’d be happy knowing that donations from her daffodils will be going there.” Mr. Dennis couldn’t agree more. “I know Belle would be happy about me opening up the bed and breakfast because that’s something we thought about doing before she became sick,” he said.
“It’s rewarding now that I’m able to show people her gardens and to hold this annual daffodil event. We believe this is something she’d really like. It’s our way of paying back.”