Beauty in Anxious Times

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Beauty in Anxious Times

Over the past few weeks, we asked you to show your support for our front line workers in your own personal way. From Nursing Week to PSW Day (not to mention Mother’s Day somewhere in between), there were many occasions to celebrate the efforts of our remarkable frontline staff.

We asked and you answered! We’ve been overwhelmed by your responses, from writing heartfelt thank you notes, to holding up smiley faces outside the Gardens, banging pots & pans, and providing our staff with lunches, dinners, coffee breaks and everything in between. Whether donations of masks, food or financial support – each of these acts came with heartfelt notes, warm fuzzies, funny and touching stories that expressed deep gratitude and in some way said, thank you we’re in this with you:

“Words cannot express my gratitude for the love and care and respect with which you care for not only my parents but for all the other residents!” 

“For your fearless leadership during this unprecedented time. A heartfelt thank you to the Kensington leadership team, medical staff, and frontline workers who have cared for our parents. Thank you!” 

“Thank you so much for the brave and dedicated work you are doing in the community in these difficult times.” 

One of our donors, Dana Kuszelewski, a Gardens family member who has become more and more engaged with the Kensington community since the pandemic began, decided that in addition to the tins of biscuits, coffee runs and other goodies she’d brought for frontline staff – not to mention her support to the 2020 Response Fund – she needed to up the Garden’s brightness. So she called her local florist, Ivana Grahovac of Alana’s Flowers on The West Mall, to see what they could do and Ivana immediately offered Dana orchids at a very discounted price because she knew they’d last that much longer and offer much more enjoyment to staff and residents. As if that wasn’t enough, Dana penned this lovely poem to go along with the potted beauties that arrived on Wednesday, and now sit at every nursing station in the north and south buildings:

Thank you

You are family. You are

our gentle hands, our strong arms,

our smiling faces and caring eyes and our loving hearts.

You bathe them, dress them and keep their homes clean and safe.

You prepare their food and nourish them;

You bring them music and song,

You fill and support their spiritual and emotional needs

There have been those whose journey was difficult and ended in sadness

and I know that as a community we all mourned and that their passing was with respect and dignity and in a caring home.

Thank you - two small words that bring me to my knees at night as I pray for your safety and well being as I do for the entire Kensington Community.

We have all been so moved by Dana’s gesture, because in these days of high anxiety and prolonged uncertainty, orchids do something really important – they offer beauty, hope and symbolize resiliency. A sprig of grace, seemingly delicate yet deceptively sturdy, they brighten the mood and bring the outdoors in. An important function when those worlds are not as they have been or as we’d like.

As summer approaches and the weather heats up, we yearn to be outside. Our thoughts naturally turn to vacation plans, time at the lake, travel and other warm-weather pursuits that make the Canadian climate bearable when parkas are required for so much of the year. But this year isn’t like other years, is it? With canceled vacations, summer camps and outdoor plans that a few months ago had been the thing we were looking forward to once “this was all over” now seem strangely undefinable, like a square peg that we can’t quite fit into a round hole.

As we struggle with remaining distanced and the increased anxiety this provokes, orchids are much more than a thoughtful gesture for our frontline staff and residents, but an anchor to that which is familiar. Beauty as resiliency. Hope. And that in and of itself is a beautiful thing.

To Dana and all our community members who’ve taken the time to support our frontline staff, thank you! You’ve deeply touched our hearts with your expressions of support and heartfelt words.

If you haven’t had a chance to share a special message with our staff and would like to do so it’s not too late, you can email us at and we’ll include them on a community wall of gratitude that will be coming soon.

On behalf of all of us at Kensington Health, thank you for cheering us on in encouraging ways.

- By Corinne Rusch-Drutz, PhD, CEO of Kensington Health Foundation

Posted in Community Connects, Featured on May 29, 2020