April 20, 2024

Fort McMurray Girl Gang sends love to seniors 

By on February 12, 2021 0 1147 Views

Women joined together to help 126 seniors celebrate Valentine’s Day this weekend with special packages of flowers, cards and balloons. 

The initiative was launched through a Facebook group called Fort McMurray Girl Gang in collaboration with the senior housing facilities and the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

Last month, the group’s administrators put out an official announcement to its over 10 thousand, and counting, members and received an outpour of support with $800 in monetary donations for the cost within 18 hours. 

Local real estate agent Paige Cyr is the founder of the group and facilitates it with residents Sarah Rouse, Chelsea Ellsworth and Alyssa Thomson. Cyr said the Valentine’s Day initiative was inspired by her mother and explained how they first-hand understand the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the seniors’ population at home, and across Canada.

“Sarah and I both lost our grandmothers through COVID. It was quite emotional for them to be sick and alone during it,” Cyr told YMM Parent. “The idea to help seniors stemmed from my mom and she helped facilitate all of it and Sarah stepped up to organize the item pick-ups.”

Fort McMurray Girl Gang administrators Sarah Rouse, Chelsea Ellsworth, Alyssa Thomson and Paige Cyr delivered packages to over 120 seniors on February 12, 2021. Photo supplied

Thanks to the group members’ donations and support from local businesses, the four women delivered Valentine’s Day packages to the hospital and senior centres across the city.

“We had a lot of people included in making this happen. The seniors were just so excited and surprised and touched that they were thought of,” said Rouse, a registered nurse for Alberta Health Services. “Loneliness is the disease and we just wanted to make sure they felt the love and the support from the community.”

Fort McMurray resident Tina Burden said today’s actions put a smile on her father Dave Goodwin’s face and brought happiness to his fellow residents. 

“This initiative by the ladies of the Fort McMurray Girl Gang is something that will forever warm my heart. I feel that we live in such a unique community and kindness to seniors is imperative to me. They are our elders, our parents and grandparents,” she said. 

“When my dad received the card, flower and the balloons, he called me right away to tell me. He was delighted and was so happy with the kindness. He was laughing and telling me all about it, reading the card.”

Burden said when he went into the common room of his building, he got a photo with the balloon display and sent it to her right away.

“His smile shared how happy his heart is. We never truly understand how these acts of love and kindness impact others. I feel like my heart is truly smiling at the happiness my dad and others in his bldg felt today,” she said. 

Dave Goodwin sent his daughter Tina Burden a photo with the balloons his residency had delivered. Photo supplied

“COVID has made things very difficult for so many people but especially our seniors. We get groceries for dad, so he does not have to go to a store, and we are blessed that he can come here with us, but COVID has had an impact on him as there really is nothing he can really do until he is vaccinated. So, this gift from the Girl Gang lets them know they are not forgotten and that they are loved and respected. It’s such an amazing gift and I thank everyone involved from the bottom of my heart.” 

Cyr and Rouse said they couldn’t have done this without the support of its group members and the Fort McMurray community. They further shared local businesses made it financially viable by selling items to them at-cost and send special thanks to each of them. 

“A huge thank you to our YMM Girl Gang community for making this possible,” said Cyr. “Thank you to Melanie of Balloons by Melanie Bruneau for donating a very large amount of balloons through her business, Jamaica of Timberlea Dollar Store, Sharon of Caribou Flowers, Cindy at Safeway, Melanie of Chocolates and Candlelight, Ingrid from Wood Buffalo Housing and Katie, the continuing care manager at the NLRHC.” 

About the author

Editor-in-Chief at | dawn@balsom.ca

Dawn Booth is the Editor-in-Chief of YMM Parent Magazine and Your McMurray Magazine. She has actively worked in the Wood Buffalo region's media industry since residing in Fort McMurray in 2007.

Her passion is writing poetry and puts it at the forefront of the community through her volunteer work as the President of NorthWord Magazine. Most important, Booth puts her family of five first, which includes her husband Ryan and their three children, Landon, Dawson and Tessa.