Artist Lynn Melbourne honours Almonte Country Haven residents by sketching their portraits

Peppy Mocko holds a portrait of his mother that was sketched by artist Lynn Melbourne (left).

‘She has no affiliation with the home, and the fact that she just reached out of compassion and kindness and concern, it was such a beautiful gesture’

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, Lynn Melbourne, an artist from Almonte, Ont., was inspired to sketch portraits of people living in long-term care homes.

While searching for potential subjects online, she landed on Almonte Country Haven’s Facebook page and saw many faces of people living at the home.

Lynn started sketching.

In an interview with CTV News Ottawa, Lynn said she was taken by the photos Almonte Country Haven had posted of residents. She wanted to use her artistic skills to capture the beauty, joy and kindness she saw in the photos.

“I got to Country Haven’s page before COVID, (and) that’s what I saw; I saw people being kind to people,” Lynn told CTV.

It has been a challenging two months for Almonte Country Haven. In early April the Lanark County long-term care home was impacted by a COVID-19 outbreak. Twenty-eight residents passed away as a result of the virus.

For three months, Lynn has been sketching portraits of Almonte Country Haven residents from photos on the home’s Facebook page. She has sketched 40 portraits to date and plans to complete drawings of more residents.

Lynn began sending her completed portraits to Almonte Country Haven in the hopes that her artwork would provide some comfort during a difficult time.

“I thought maybe this would give them some joy,” Lynn told CTV. “Maybe this would help the residents’ families and staff because it must be hard. What a hard job. My job is easy.”

Some of the residents sketched by Lynn have passed away as a result of COVID-19. The families of those residents will receive original portraits of their loved ones from Lynn.

One of the residents who passed away was the mother of Peppy Mocko, who said his mother loved life at Almonte Country Haven.

“She really found a home here; she loved the people here, she loved the staff, and I think it was pretty mutual,” he told CTV, adding he was touched to receive a portrait of his mother from Lynn.

“This just tops everything off,” he said. “That someone cared about these people beyond a working situation. She would have been so thrilled.”

OMNI Health Care, which owns Almonte Country Haven, is planning to have the portraits Lynn has created transferred to canvas for family members to have.

Portraits will also be used to create a commemorative wall at the home.

Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta says Lynn’s gesture has meant a lot to everyone at the home.

“God has given her this incredible gift and she is now using her gift to be generous with others and kind,” Carolyn told CTV.

“She has no affiliation with the home, and the fact that she just reached out of compassion and kindness and concern, it was such a beautiful gesture.”

Click here to watch the video of the CTV story.

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