Sandy Pednault’s day was briefly turned upside down when more than 30 new beds showed up outside her office one bright morning.
She stood outside Ayre Manor, an affordable seniors housing facility in Sooke, staring at a semi-trailer truck that managed to wiggle its way into the small parking lot in 2018. The driver informed her that they were delivering new beds, a much-needed update at the facility for 33 residential suites.
Unfortunately, the truck didn’t come equipped with a lift to get the beds out.
“It was probably one of the most memorable days here [at the manor] because we were so caught off guard,” chuckled Pednault, 78. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but I knew we had to fix the problem quickly.”
With one phone call, a forklift was on its way from Home Hardware, and the beds were stacked into a storage space on the property, later to be moved into separate rooms.
Days like those are only a drop in the bucket of memories for Pednault, who’s stepping down as chair of the Sooke Elderly Citizens Housing Society after 23 years of volunteer service at Ayre Manor.
Her last day was in early October, where she was given a large card and flowers from coworkers. It wasn’t hard on Pednault’s part to say goodbye, as she doesn’t feel like it’s goodbye at all.
Last Wednesday morning, she dropped by the Ayre Manor to chat with executive director Kerry Williams about an idea to propose funding for a cleaning machine for wheelchairs.
“I’ve never met someone exactly like her,” said Williams, who was first introduced to Pednault eight years ago.
“I arrived here [at the manor], and she was out on the grounds in her gumboots doing some gardening. The amount of time and effort she’s poured into the seniors here is outstanding.”
Pednault recalls feeling on top of the world when the Sooke Elderly Citizens Housing Society was able to open Ayre Manor, a complex care and assisted living centre, in 2008.
“I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, this is actually happening,’” Pednault said. “It was so busy during that time that there wasn’t much room left to think about how worthwhile all the hard work was.”
Pednault said perseverance and calmness are key virtues for someone in her position.
She said Williams would come up to her once a week to work out their concerns and stresses over a new project. Pednault continually pushes for the province and Island Health to help fund the construction of 58 more units, a request on the books since 2013. The organization is still in talks with Island Health about how best to move forward.
Looking to the future, you’ll find Pednault tending to her garden whenever she has a spare moment.
She’s also excited to spend more time with her husband and her four grandchildren. The next person to take over her position is Pat Philipps.
Notably, there are two vacancies on the board of directors that they are still looking to fill. Ayre Manor has just under 100 staff on its team, and around 40 people are waiting to get into the facility.
Pednault believes that new blood is needed, pointing out she’s as old as some people living at Ayre Manor. Nonetheless, she says every minute was “time well spent,” as volunteering has been a keystone part of her life.
“I’ve already got an extra bed [at the Manor] prepared to take care of her,” Williams joked. “Sooke is lucky to have her.”
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