Four-year-old gets birthday wish of spending the day with ‘her people’ at Maplewood

Avery Smith Kargus celebrated her special day outside the home with residents watching on

Four-year-old Avery Smith Kargus considers the people living at Maplewood as “her people.”

For the past two years when Avery’s birthday has rolled around, she has requested her party be held at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home where her mother, Paula Smith Kargus, works as a personal support worker.

However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Avery has not been able to visit “her people” for the past nine months.

Still, Avery wanted her birthday plans to include Maplewood, so she and Paula had to think of a different way of celebrating her special day.

Last year, Avery’s birthday party was held at Maplewood. Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery recalls the day being “so much fun for everyone.”

Although they couldn’t have Avery’s party inside Maplewood this year, they could, Avery and Paula discovered, have a celebration outside the home.

So that’s what they did.

On Dec. 5, Paula brought a birthday cake to Maplewood for residents to enjoy, and Avery visited residents from outside their windows.

“Although Avery was disappointed that she couldn’t come inside to visit her friends, she was happy that ‘her people’ got birthday cake, and her friends were so happy to sing Happy Birthday for Avery,” Rachel tells The OMNIway.

Rachel notes that the community also stepped in to help Avery celebrate her special day.

When Paula mentioned that Avery wanted a police car for her birthday, a Maplewood team member contacted the local OPP detachment and arranged for police to drive by her home with their sirens sounding.

Rachel says the kindness shown towards Avery is part and parcel of what Maplewood is all about.

“We truly are the Maplewood family here,” she says.

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