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Sam Jamieson at the Perley Rideau with artwork created in the Creative Arts Studio.

There are so many ways a special gift from you will enrich the lives of seniors and Veterans living at the Perley Rideau

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If you asked me to name a country I haven’t visited, I’d have to think pretty hard. After 34 years of service in the Royal Canadian Navy, I like to say I’ve seen just about every place in the world!

When I enlisted at 18, it was the first time I’d ever been away from home. I had no idea what life as a seaman would be like. I didn’t have to wonder long — soon I was leaving Halifax aboard the supply ship HMCS Meon. It was 1944, and I was called to serve in the Second World War.

My dad and my grandfather both fought in the First World War. I imagine we shared a sense of duty, but also a desire for adventure and the camaraderie that lasts a lifetime. Some memories still make me smile. Others are hard to talk about, even after all these years.

I moved into the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre earlier this year after recovering in hospital from a bad fall. The Perley Rideau has a long history in Ottawa of providing care for Canadian Veterans and seniors. Its mission of achieving excellence in the health, safety and well-being of all residents is carried out every day. I couldn’t ask for more caring, attentive staff or a better place to live.

Even though I’ve traveled around the world, I felt at home the minute I moved into the Perley Rideau. It’s a fantastic feeling, one I know other residents share.

I immediately connected with other Veterans who can relate to the life I’ve led and the things I’ve seen. Many of them see the pictures I have in my memory cabinet just outside my room and tell me, “Wow, you’ve been around!” What a great way to start conversations and new friendships.

That’s why I’m writing to ask you to consider donating to the Perley Rideau this Christmas. Your donation will make sure we continue to enjoy recreational programs that keep us active and engaged, and you’ll fund the equipment we need to have the best quality of life.

After the Second World War ended, I returned to Canada and worked in a hardware store in Kingston but my earlier travel had piqued my appetite for adventure. You could say I was bitten by the travel bug! It’s for this reason that I reenlisted in 1951 and served in the Korean War.

I remember the morning of October 2, 1952, as if it were yesterday. I was on the deck of destroyer ship HMCS Iroquois when we took fire. I was hit with shrapnel in my nose, leg and back. My hearing was permanently damaged from the blast. Still, I was lucky. Many of my fellow crewmen didn’t survive that day.

My wounds kept me in a Hong Kong hospital for about a month. After I recovered, I spent six years completing tours on the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure.

In 1955, I married my lovely Helen, and together we raised three children: Gord, Cynthia and Bill. My postings took us to Montreal and Halifax until I eventually retired from service in 1977.

I keep my twelve service medals close by always. On Remembrance Day I wear them proudly, along with a poppy, on my full dress uniform.

After I retired, I realized people were interested in my stories, and I started to become comfortable talking about my experiences. I wanted to serve my fellow Veterans by fundraising and giving my time.

I volunteered with cadets, and became active in the Legion and I am now a “life member”. I got involved with the Poppy Campaign and I’ve helped every year for over 40 years now. I look forward to marking Remembrance Day at the Perley Rideau this year with so many Veterans and residents who, like me, have strong wartime memories.  A portable stage, made possible by generous donors, will allow residents to enjoy special events, include the Remembrance Day ceremony.

The lead up to the holiday season will follow, and I’ve been told that Christmas at the Perley Rideau is a very special time. With parties, caroling, craft fairs, a variety show, rows of Christmas trees and a big turkey dinner, it sounds like quite the festive place! I can’t wait to be part of it.

I have fond memories of childhood Christmases in my hometown of Kingston, Ontario. We were a big family, with my parents and eight kids around the table. We always had a delicious meal, and I remember how we each got one small gift to open.

With your help, Perley Rideau seniors and Veterans can start their day by opening a special card on Christmas Day. I’ve just learned about this wonderful tradition!  

The artwork on your enclosed Card of Kindness was created by a resident right here in the Therapeutic Recreation and Creative Arts Program. When you write a message in the card and send it back along with your donation, you’ll be making sure that every resident at the Perley Rideau receives a Christmas card. What a beautiful way to brighten someone’s holiday.

Now that I’m settled into my new home, I’m looking forward to taking part in different recreational programs as a Perley Rideau resident. At the Legion I loved playing bingo, and now that’s something I can do right here. From meaningful day trips to music therapy classes, we’re fortunate to have such variety in our programs.

I’ve seen trains and other pieces that residents make in the woodworking studio. That’s a craft I’ve never tried, but I think it’s time I did! I might even try to make a little toy for my newest great-granddaughter, Charley.

I’ve been enjoying walks outside, especially out to the pond. I learned that the benches where I like to sit were purchased from donor gifts. That’s the kind of caring that makes me feel lucky to be living at the Perley Rideau. So much thought goes into programs and equipment to improve the quality of our lives.

There are so many ways a special gift from you will enrich the lives of seniors and Veterans living at the Perley Rideau. Some of our most pressing needs include medical Hi-Lo beds, and sit-to-stand lifts to improve safety for both residents and caregivers..

Donations from people like you also support the Perley Rideau’s many programs and services, including one that’s close to my heart: The Summer Youth Volunteer program. It’s such a great way to introduce young people to acts of volunteering.

I keep a treasured book here in my room. It’s filled with clippings from my 34 years of service and beyond. When I have visitors, I enjoy reminiscing about the worldwide adventures I’ve had.

I show them photos from all of my travels, but especially the incredible trip I took to Belgium and France in 2017. I explain to young visitors why I wore my uniform to lay a wreath at Ypres. I describe Canada’s towering monument at Vimy, and tell them how special it was to visit the 101-year old grave site near Ypres where my grandfather who dies during World War I rests rests.

It’s important to keep these memories alive, both for me and for a new generation. It’s a privilege to live in a place where I can connect with so many people, including other Veterans.

I hope you’ll consider supporting the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre with a gift today. We have a wonderful place to call home thanks to the caring support of our community—let’s keep it that way.

Sincerely,

Sanford (Sam) Jamieson

WWII and Korean War Veteran and Perley Rideau resident

P.S. This season of giving is the perfect time to make a charitable gift to the Perley Rideau. Your kind donation will support the programs and equipment that make such a difference for me and my fellow seniors and Veterans. And please remember to sign and return the enclosed Card of Kindness with your gift today!