Team adopts fire evacuees

"Welcome to Edmonton!" smiles Geoff Hoeppner as he and his Covenant Health Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) team give donated items to four new Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre residents. 

The new residents are Fort McMurray evacuees who didn’t have time to pack their belongings before fleeing the fire. They arrived in Edmonton a few days ago with nothing. The Edmonton General took in 14 new residents, four of whom needed a little extra support. 

That’s when Deanna Hamlyn, an Occupational Health Nurse from OHS, initiated contact with the continuing care site. “Can you get us some specifics? Exactly what do people need? We’d love to help out.”

The entire Occupational Health and Safety team wanted to get involved. “Anytime you can help, especially within Covenant Health, it’s like ‘absolutely!’ and everyone just jumped in. It’s been amazing,” adds Alison Beller, Occupational Health Nurse. 

After receiving a list of specific items the residents needed, Mary Jacejko, Safety Consultant, and Geoff got to work right away. They purchased men’s clothing, and London Drugs donated three electric razors. When Geoff told his daughters about the situation, they wanted to help out too. They went through their closets and donated clothing to the cause. “It’s really amazing how the community has come together,” says Geoff. “People of all ages are helping out. It’s so great.” 

“This was never about recognition—it’s about fulfilling a basic human need,” remarks Alison. “A clean shave and a fresh shirt make all the difference.”

Fifty per cent of Alison’s team are from Fort McMurray or have lived there at one time, so she says the desire to pitch in was strong. “That’s the nature of our team. We’re very community-oriented people as a whole. When people are asked to step up, everyone does just that.”

For Judy Snider, Ability Management Consultant, this was chance to show the evacuees compassion.

“Everyone is busy, but we made the time to provide these necessary items. It’s our small part to bring these residents a little bit of joy.”

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