RGH residents enjoy ice cream and cookies at Black River Coffee

By Mike Anderson

Twenty residents from River Glen Haven Nursing Home were treated to ice cream and cookies at Elaine’s Black River Coffee Shop in Sutton on August 26.

It marked the first time since the pandemic that RGH residents were allowed out for an excursion.

Local musician Neil Chapman serenaded the group – whose ages ranged from 65 to 102 – with toe-tapping tunes, like “Hey Good Lookin” by Hank Williams.

YRP Det. Constable Adam Draper, from District #3 in Sutton, was also on hand to help serve ice cream and cookies.

According to Susan Brigley, RGH’s Recreational Director, the last time residents were allowed out on an excursion was in March 2020.

“The last time was right before COVID started; we went on a Walmart outing,” she said. “So, today was a big deal.”

Elaine Coates, the owner of Black River Coffee at 126 High St., says she used to have the residents over for a coffee once a month.

“Before COVID, we did it from April to October, every month. But once COVID hit, we couldn’t obviously,” Coates said.

“But today, we brought the seniors onto the patio, and we’re giving them a little party.”

Sarah, Elaine & Murray
YRP Const. Adam Draper
Neil Chapman
Ralph Baird gives thumbs up

Coates says that for some residents, especially those with dementia, the music, refreshments, and new surroundings provide a respite of sorts.

“They don’t really know where they are. But when someone starts playing a song, it’s in their eyes. There’s a recognition.” she said.

“Tomorrow, they might not remember, but at this moment, they’re having a great time. And that’s what it’s all about.”

“I’m having fun,” said Gertie Leitch, 89, who seemed very pleased to be eating strawberry ice cream while listening to Chapman play his version of “Blue Suede Shoes.” “It’s delicious,” she said.

Murray Taylor, who owns the Moolicious Ice Cream Shop at 141 High St, was happy to donate the ice cream.

“I figured the go-to is either strawberry, chocolate or vanilla, but I didn’t have enough coolers, so I brought two flavours,” Taylor said.

But nobody seemed to mind there was no vanilla, especially with the temperature hovering at 28 degrees Celsius.

“Everybody loves ice cream. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold; people will eat it,” Taylor said.

While Taylor credits Coates with getting him involved, he says it felt good to put a smile on the resident’s faces.

“They deserve respect. They are the ones that grew this town. So, I’m happy to give back,” he said.

Both Coates and Taylor would like to see more local businesses owners give back.

“I’d like to challenge other businesses to do something, and it doesn’t have to be expensive,” Coates said.

“It’s about bringing them out and giving them pleasure. It’s breaking up their routine. It’s a very lonely thing sitting in a room seven days a week.”

But it wasn’t only the residents enjoying themselves; RGH staff also had a good time, prompting Brigley to plan a return visit.

“We always love to be part of community get-togethers,” she said.

“We’re going to come back here next month. We’re just very thankful to the Black River Cafe, Neil and the police for coming and being part of our day.”

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