Resident Stories

Oh, the stories they can tell…

We love to celebrate the diverse life stories of our residents, check back often as we add stories to our collection.

Joseph shares his talent to bring joy to others

Joseph Law Bird Painting

Joseph came to Columbus Residence three years ago—the day after his beloved wife passed away from cancer. He had been living with Parkinson’s Disease for some time, yet had still done all of the cooking and cleaning!

In Hong Kong, Joseph studied very hard to become a teacher, then studied structural engineering at night while teaching during the day. He still believes in hard work and never giving up—even today as he works on his drawing skills with limited use of his hands and partial paralysis.

Joseph considers his friends at Columbus Residence his brothers and sisters. He credits the Recreation Therapy Program, for helping him develop his artistic ability.

Joseph drawingHe draws every day and now has a collection of about 80 drawings of birds from all over the world which he studied in books from the Vancouver Public Library (VPL). The VPL has used one of his drawings on their Holiday card for donors.

Joseph is currently teaching Grade 5 students from St. Anthony of Padua Elementary school to draw and to work hard!

Joseph at Columbus ResidenceThrough our Spiritual Care program, Joseph goes to chapel every day and believes his hands belong to God—He has given him the gift to draw.

And, Joseph demonstrates his gifts go beyond his artistic talent in his belief that:

“Everyone is my brother and sister…”

Learn more about our Recreation Therapy and Spiritual Care programs. Learn more about Joseph in his BC Catholic interview.

Our very own Guinness World Record Holder

Roger worked in customer service for Canadian Airlines for over 40 years, and has traveled all over the world to 169 countries, all 10 Canadian provinces, all 50 American states—and from the North Pole to the South Pole. When asked what took him to all those countries, Roger jokes,”Airplanes, usually!” Roger told us recently, “I’m even in the Guinness Book of World Records—1979 edition—for flying around the world in 68 hours, 8 min and 28 sec.”. He was interviewed by Jack Webster on CJOR about this experience.

RogerOne of Roger’s most memorable trips was to Timbuktu in Mali, West Africa which he loves to share stories about as many people don’t realize it really exists! And, he was in Chile the night that Salvador Allende was overthrown by Augusto Pinochet—watching tanks drive up and down the main boulevard, he says, “It was the scariest moment of my life.”

From growing up in the Columbus Residence neighbourhood to skiing in Voss, Norway to watching major league baseball in Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic—Roger’s life has been a wonderful traveling adventure! He loves to have people name a country, and he’ll name the cities he’s visited in that country. Jaime Ascher, Columbus Residence Administrator, says, “I’ve never been able to stump him!”

Roger is still active, going on outings to Oakridge to have coffee with friends, bus trips to places like Stanley Park and Grouse Mountain, and one of his favourite activities—Canadians baseball games at Nat Bailey Stadium! Roger’s adventurous spirit continues to thrive through our Recreation Therapy Program because of the support of donors like you. This program enriches the daily lives of our residents through activities and events that are meaningful and enjoyable to them.


…my mother found connection and comfort.


Robin and daughter, HeidiHeidi, Robin’s daughter wrote a touching letter about her mother’s experience coming to Columbus Residence.

I am writing to share how the music program at Columbus Residence has impacted my mother.

She is a young 73. Her going into residential care was sudden and unexpected. She was tremendously uncomfortable and found settling into the situation a challenge. She went from living in a lovely retirement community with friends and neighbours in Chilliwack, to a place and people she didn’t know.

She went from being independent, to having strangers approach her to tell her when to change and when to eat. This was a shock for her. I imagine that others might have this same experience. She spent the majority of her time alone in her room.

I am the only family member present and able to care for my mom. I am also a single mother of a young teen, living here in Vancouver. I have been greatly overextended physically, financially and emotionally, in trying to provide care for my mother on my own. As she is young and very present, a large part of her care and needs involve keeping her engaged, and bringing meaning to her days. This has to some degree, put me and my son in an unhealthy position as I’m challenged to find enough time to look after my own home and child. The music program at Columbus takes some of the pressure off in this and enables me to do a better job caring for my mother and my son.

It was through Lyndia Scott the music therapist, the visiting musicians, and the music program offered at Columbus, as well as through Paloma Leon and kind people in the recreation department, that my mother found connection and comfort. This has brought her so much joy and peace, and has given her a way to connect with others. It has brought us all together, families included. When the home is able to bring in a special musician or program, I see residents, families and staff full of joy. Such an important and healthy contribution to lives. I believe that it wards off depression and decline of health. It most definitely does for my mother. She is a social and creative person. This has provided her an outlet and a reason to leave her room. She has many years ahead and although her world has become incredibly small and somewhat limited, the music program has made it possible for the world to come to her.

There is a degree of sadness with the sometimes long good bye that comes with dementia. The music program is not every day (unfortunately), but on the days my mother does have it, there is so much joy, inclusion and interaction. I also notice other residents that normally do not interact or communicate much, smiling and singing together. I see some that used to play the piano, sit and play again as the music brings back the memory. There is so much more to this than just playing a song. It’s very much person led, and organic to some degree. Sometimes it’s the residents that are playing the music. It reaches everyone on a personal level.

This particular residence has a hard working recreation team and they try to provide programming that is meaningful to the residents. Still there are many empty hours to some days where people are just left. They are no longer able to walk safely outside in the world, but still have so much in them. To be alone and without family around, it is such a kindness to give them these moments of joy through music and interaction.

Robin and HeidiMy mother comes from a family with 11 siblings. Her mother played the piano, and.her and her sisters sang and performed for many years. My mother’s mental and emotional state has improved greatly through the music program at Columbus, and is one of the reasons I advocated for her to come to this home. I would ask that this Music Therapy and programming continued to be supported and increased, as there is not enough as it is.

I am writing not only for my mother, but for all the other residents that I see come out of their shell, smile and participate in the joy that the music brings. I can not emphasis enough what a difference it makes, and how much more is needed. I would like to ask whoever is reading this message and deciding on how and if help will be offered, to come and visit us at Columbus, and to join us to see and experience the positive impact it makes.

I thank you for reading this, and for the support that has been offered to make this possible, and for your kind consideration to continue this support.

Heidi H.
November 24, 2019