2020 has definitely been an unpredictable year, leaving many of Anam Cara’s services at the mercy of everchanging restrictions and limitations on the types of care we can provide our guests. During this time, we have taken the opportunity to interview a few of our dedicated volunteers and now we would like to share a few stories from some of our amazing guests. Our first interviewee is Bruce, one of our most mischievous guests!
Bruce has been coming to Anam Cara for over a year and normally participates in our day program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Bruce has been living with MS since 1984 and discovered Anam Cara’s services after staying at our facilities with his wife while they were having their bathroom renovated. “We had to make our bathroom all entry-level, the toilet was taken out and everything was changed. My coordinator got onto Anam Cara and we came here for a week while the bathroom was being done and we got talking to Tessa, one of the Anam Cara staff, and she suggested I come here weekly,” said Bruce.
Bruce has found Anam Cara a really positive as a place to visit, where he does not feel the need to dwell on his condition and can enjoy the company of others. “Anam Cara has given people somewhere to go. We don’t need to come here and feel the need to be doing something. We can come here simply for the companionship of other people. Anam Cara is all about the people, and they know that we have something wrong with us but they don’t dwell on it, that is the main thing. It has been a godsend,” he said.
Bruce said his time spent at Anam Cara was just as important for his wife of 52 years, who now has the opportunity to take a break or run errands during his visits. “One of the biggest differences is that I go to Anam Cara for the day and my wife can go out and do her own thing, so we can talk to one another about our day when we come home. Before that, we were together 24 hours a day so you had nothing to talk about, that is what has been really good.” “Anam Cara can help people who are sitting at home on their own, who don’t know what to do, or don’t know what to say, and the team here will help bring them out of their shell a bit.”
During Victoria’s first lockdown, Tessa from the Anam Cara team challenged Bruce to make a wheelbarrow garden for her, knowing his passion for gardening. “Tessa got this old wheelbarrow and I took all of the rust off it, painted it, and planted some plants in it for her. Tessa has it at her place now.” “I play around in the garden and like planting seeds. Last year, we sold them at the local market and now I’m doing it again now because I have a greenhouse at home that I can wheel straight into with my chair,” he said.
Bruce reflected on how difficult it has been during the COVID-19 lockdowns and not having his normal weekly visits to Anam Cara. “I suppose I’m a bit biased, but I was really disheartened when Anam Cara had to close. I can’t wait for the pandemic to be over and done with. At least I have my hothouse and plants now, but it still doesn’t replace my weekly visits to Anam Cara. I really miss it,” he said.
Bruce has now set his sights on the new Anam Cara facility and looks forward to the purpose-built facilities that will cater for a broad range of guests. “Once Anam Cara is in its new home it is going to be purpose-built; the doors are going to be wider to fit my wheelchair which will be great. I used to live in the same street as Anam Cara, and never knew that it was there! When they open the new building, I think it will be a great opportunity to push what is so great about Anam Cara,” said Bruce.