FMO team members attend a party at Banfield Pavilion recognizing their donation of a restored shuffleboard. (Left to right: Andy So, Eugene Morin, Geordy Macleod, Jeff Smith, Cian Maunsell, Sylvia Mertins and Martin Bort.)

Labour of love brings joy to Banfield residents

When Jeff Smith heard that the VGH Health Centre was scheduled for demolition in 2018, he knew what he had to do.

Long before the Joseph and Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre opened its doors, replacing the Health Centre, Jeff had made a promise.

“I promised my mentor and friend, more than 10 years ago, to save a long-forgotten shuffleboard in the Health Centre,” says the carpenter with Facilities Maintenance & Operations (FMO).

After speaking with the Planning & Projects team and approaching his manager and supervisor, Jeff got the green light to retrieve and restore the shuffleboard and find it a good home.

Jeff’s passion for the project was palpable and it quickly spread throughout the team encouraging several others to lend their time and skills to the cause. The group enlisted shop carpenters, Andy So, Geordy Macleod and several others to bring the board back to its original glory. It became a feel-good project for the shop, a way to give back.

The team was determined to find the shuffleboard a good home. “When Sylvia [Health Centre decommissioning project coordinator] suggested donating it to Banfield, I swear, I got goosebumps; it was the perfect place,” Jeff recalls.  “We wanted to lift their spirits and give them something to say, ‘We’re thinking about you.’”

On November 16, the FMO team presented the shuffleboard to Banfield Pavilion residents during a party celebrating the shuffleboard’s arrival and the team for their generosity.

The new shuffleboard was an instant hit with Norman Pimm (pictured right) and many of the other residents. It will provide a low-barrier activity for exercise and entertainment for years to come.

“It meets our needs on lots of different levels,” remarks Natalie Chapman, activity worker at Banfield Pavilion. “It’s very accessible: the rocks slide easily; the rules are simple, and there’s lots of ways to play the game. There’s a way for everyone to play whether they’re in a wheelchair or able to stand.”

Jeff is thrilled to see the positive impact made possible by the work he and his team have done, and in an important moment shared the story with his mentor.

“He was blown away when I told him,” Jeff recalls. “He was so proud of the guys and what they did. I am too.”