Group of Alberta seniors granted longtime dreams

A retirement community in Alberta is helping its seniors fulfill longtime wishes.

The “Dream a Little Dream” program asks seniors living in the community to write a letter detailing a wish close to their heart.

Corporate chaplain Jill Burt, with Christenson Communities, said the senior can apply once a year to be chosen as a finalist.

“We designed this program to honour and respect our seniors wishes and dreams. We know they have amazing dreams inside of their hearts. We want to make some of their once-in-a-lifetime dreams come true,” Burt said.

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Burt said this is the first year of the program.

“The application asks them to describe their dream. We ask what makes it meaningful, how long they’ve had this dream and what they think they would experience emotionally or spiritually if they had that wish granted.”

Across the province, each community chose one or two wishes to fulfill.

A St. Albert man, who is an Edmonton Oilers fan, is the first recipient of a dream.

“Sadly, over the last eight years or so, he hasn’t been able to attend an Oilers game due to some mobility problems,” Burt said. “He wanted to cheer his favourite team on.”

Last Tuesday, 64-year-old George Mestinsek got his wish. For the first time in a decade, he and his brother, Otto, went to a game together.

“It was outstanding. I just can’t do it anymore [because I’m in a wheelchair]. It’s a beautiful arena,” Mestinsek said. “It was wonderful to be picked to get a dream. I didn’t have any idea that I would be picked.”

Mestinsek said he had tears in his eyes when he was selected to receive a wish.

“It’s wonderful. How often do you often get to see the Oilers play? My chances of seeing another one are probably very limited,” Mestinsek said. “I’m very thankful to them for doing what they did… it’s something that makes your life happier.”

Mestinsek said there was only one thing missing from his experience.

“It was a nice event, I just wish the Oilers would’ve won!” laughed Mestinsek.

George Mestinsek outside of Rogers Place

Burt said more wishes are still to come later in the year. In Sherwood Park, one gentleman — who performs a song he wrote for his wife every anniversary — wants to make this year extra special.

“He wrote a song for his wife years ago, and has played it for his wife on their anniversary over the years. They are celebrating a really special anniversary this year. It was always his dream to have some string accompaniment,” Burt said.

“We’re going to help him make that dream come true. When he plays it for his wife, he will have professionals backing him up playing it.”

Another Edmonton resident has a dream of collecting as many teddy bears as she can, to give them to children in the hospital.

“She had a significant event in her life where she received a teddy bear. It was really meaningful to her. It’s her dream to give back by reproducing what she felt,” said Burt.

Burt said the dreams are often very simple, but filled with meaning for residents.

“Wishes and dreams don’t have to be great big fancy things. Many are just something like celebrating a passion. Sometimes it’s honouring a family tradition,” Burt said. “Sometimes it’s reconnecting with loved ones. These dreams connect them to their emotions.”

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