When Bob Armstrong packed up his belongings and moved to St. Joseph’s Parkwood Institute, he put away his paints and canvases and bid farewell to his life’s passion. He assumed he would never paint again.
Though happy to be living in Veterans Care at Parkwood, Bob needed gentle persuading from Kim Smith, an instructor in the Veterans Arts studio to pick up a paintbrush. Soon he was in the studio any chance he could get.
That was two years ago. Since then, 93-year-old Bob has re-discovered his creative voice. Not only has he produced more than 320 paintings, but he’s also showcased his art in galleries across London and sold them – with proceeds going to the Palliative Care Unit at Parkwood Institute.
Bob’s confidence has grown, as well as his independence and willingness to get involved. Through recreational programs, he’s had the chance to experience new things like food appreciation in the Master Chef’s program, joining in sing-alongs and getting a chance to see Cirque du Soleil.
“I’ve been treated 100 per cent since being here,” says Bob. “[Parkwood] is beginning to feel more like home and my daughters now get to be my kids — not my caregivers.”
The things that bring comfort and joy to Veterans like Bob are made possible through gifts to St. Joseph’s annual fundraising campaign Season of Celebration.
Now in its 29th year, donations to Season of Celebration will help purchase a SmartBoard used in education and entertainment programming, ceiling-lifts that help Veterans maneuver in their surroundings and accessible furniture that safely makes hospital feel more like home.
Bob will be spending Christmas at Parkwood Institute this year. He’ll be joined by family and friends who will gather together for a holiday dinner.
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