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St. Joseph's Care Group

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Dreaming of Flowers and Spring

The beautiful flowers that <strong>Carmel Smillie</strong> plants every year at the base of the statue of St. Joseph
Flowers at the base of the statue of St. Joseph

Date: 2015-03-20

Carmel Smillie is an eternal optimist - with a very green thumb. Even though we just survived the coldest February on record, and there’s still snow blanketing the ground, she is already dreaming of the flowers she’ll plant at St. Joseph’s Heritage this spring. Like she does every year.

“You have to move it and keep active to stay healthy, so I’ll continue to plant the flowers for as long as I can,” the senior citizen says.

When Carmel first moved to the PR Cook Apartments seven years ago, she quickly noticed there were no flowers around the statue of St. Joseph near the entranceway. Not one to wait for others, she volunteered to plant and maintain the beautiful display of bright pink impatiens residents and visitors now enjoy each summer.

And she didn’t stop there.

She also planted flowers in window boxes on her balcony, and found that it motivated others to do the same, further enhancing the exterior of the building. “It looks much nicer and gives me a great deal of satisfaction,” she explains. “I enjoy it, and I can see others passing by, stopping to appreciate the flowers, and commenting on them.”

Not only do passers-by appreciate the colourful displays. Last summer, Carmel was the recipient of a Civic Beautification Award (apartments and condos) presented by the Thunder Bay Horticultural Society. She received letters of thanks and appreciation from residents, and her efforts were also acknowledged by Tracy Buckler, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Care Group.

“We are all grateful to Carmel for bringing her gardening passion with her to St. Joseph’s Heritage,” Buckler said. “The beautiful flowers surrounding the statue of St. Joseph give pleasure to many, and are a wonderful reminder of how one person can make a difference.”

In her cheerful apartment, surrounded by collections of cranberry glass, and porcelain angels and nuns, Carmel reflects on her life at PR Cook Apartments.

“She knew what she was doing,” she says, referring to Sister Leila Greco, the driving force behind St. Joseph’s Heritage, also known as A Place for All Seasons. “She consulted with staff and seniors to find out what was needed and what would work well for residents. It’s a wonderful place. Everyone has a balcony, there is a chapel, and help is available wherever needed. I have a very nice life here - God has been good to me.”


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