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Rosslyn Dowell Education Fund Opening Remarks – English
Thank you Brian:
Good afternoon, as you now know I am Rosslyn Dowell. I am honoured to have this Education Fund bear my name.
When Kathy called to ask me if I was willing to be a part of this, I was excited because it brought together three things that I am passionate about – three things for which I have been advocating for many years – seniors, continuing education and of course the Bennett Centre.
As I was thinking about what to say today, I recalled my first encounter with a nursing home as an Activation Coordinator during my university days. I came across my name tag the other day which seemed like karma! The home I worked in was not a very nice one and in the 70’s would have fit the description of warehousing the elderly. The impact that our simple activities had on the quality of life of the residents and the caring of the staff despite the physical conditions had a lasting effect on me and the education and advocacy that I would continue throughout my lifetime.
Following this experience I changed the focus of my education to gerontology, a very new area of study in the 70s and headed off to graduate school to further my work. I got my first job as staff to the Continuing Education Committee of the Council on Aging in Ottawa, advocating for and designing intergenerational programming. Another inspirational story for me involves a special Auntie who decided to go to college in her 60s to become an RNA! She had been a stay at home wife and mother for all her adult life but upon the passing of her husband decided she wanted to make a difference in the lives of seniors in our community and she went to work at that same nursing home I worked in as a student. She had the time and the resources to pursue her dream.
So that explains my passion for seniors and education; so now the Bennett Centre. For 6 years I had the privilege of serving on various committees and the Board of Directors, thanks to my friend Kathy who caught me as I was retiring and encouraged me to come and support the Bennett, to make a difference in my own community! For 4 of those years I served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Bennett Village. While there were changes in management, struggles with our identity as a Village, challenges with redeveloping the Home, one thing was constant – the quality of care that was shown to the residents by the front line staff at Bennett Centre. During this time we celebrated 20 years of LTC at the Bennett Centre and volunteers and families came out to celebrate with us. All of them spoke of the incredible dedication of the staff.
Having spent a lot of time in the home during my time as chair, I had the privilege of meeting a number of you and learning about your aspirations for the home and what you loved most about working at Bennett. I saw the potential in so many of you to move to the next level. I also learned about the impediments you faced in continuing your training. That is what I hope this fund does for you, removes one of those barriers to continuing your education.
I am so proud that a small donation could spawn such a great idea and that others have also supported the idea with their own donations. Soo, to you and the team that developed this idea, Bravo! I will continue to support the Fund and promote it through fundraising so that as many of you as possible can benefit from it – because despite having moved away in the past year, Georgetown and the Bennett Centre will remain forever in my heart!