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Helping build your new home: Melanie’s journey of healing

When we think of a retirement home, we often think of it being a home for what it suggests: people who are retired. But that’s not the case for everyone.

Melanie Freeman moved into the Carefor Civic Complex at 50, and while it took her a bit of time getting used to it, has found the feeling of home that she didn’t think she would reclaim following the death of mother.

As is the case for many people in Pembroke, the Civic Complex played a role in Melanie’s life. Formerly the Civic Hospital, Melanie was born there on November 17, 1971, as she proudly states, having an incredible memory for dates. She likely couldn’t have seen that in her 50th year that Civic would become her home.

But life has a tendency to change and on August 23rd, 2022, Melanie’s mother passed away.

Ten years prior, she had suffered an aneurysm which meant Melanie became her mom’s primary caregiver. She remembers the night she ended up back in the hospital after a fall: “The ambulance came and picked my mom up in their yellow gowns and their blue gloves and their face shield things, too. It was pretty scary for me.” 

After her mom’s passing, she moved in with her brother, but her doctor told her that wasn’t a permanent option for her and recommended Carefor Civic Complex.

At first Melanie was taken aback by the idea. She initially responded “I can’t do that… It’s supposed to be for seniors and I’m only 50”. Still, the doctor told her that wasn’t an issue, and she should at least look into it. Melanie says that when taking a tour of the complex she liked what she saw, and she did end up moving in. It was October 19th, 2022.

When she moved in, staff helped her with her emotions following the passing of her mother. “They told me to go to the cemetery a lot and to bring a dime,” Melanie says. “They said the dime would protect me.”  20 months later she’s a very familiar face to all the residents and staff at Civic, participating in mostly all the activities and regularly lending a hand to staff, “I’ve always been a helper,” she says. “It just makes me feel special.”

Last September, Melanie put her helping spirit into action as she participated in The Grand Parade to help raise essential funds for our retirement homes in Pembroke. She rallied a team around her of her brother, sister-in-law, nephew, dad and his girlfriend. Together they raised $575 for upgrades to Civic to help make life more comfortable for her fellow residents.

Her efforts even caught the attention of Pembroke City Councillor, Ed Jacyno, who spoke about Melanie’s efforts at a City Council meeting following the event.

Today life goes on and Melanie feels at home at Civic knowing she has a group of friends she can help and staff to make sure she’s doing okay.

To learn more about The Grand Parade taking place in Pembroke on September 21 visit our page. And to learn more about our retirement homes in Renfrew County and how they can help you or a loved one live with comfort and peace of mind, visit our website.

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