Smiles, laughter, and great desserts, along with an incredible spirit of community, were displayed at Portage la Prairie's Dufferin Villa Thursday afternoon. The Villa's first anniversary of occupancy was celebrated. Administrator Adrienne Matthews-McCulley says it coincided with the February birthdays of the residents.  

The Villa was in the planning stages for 15 years, and it became a reality just over a year ago when its first tenant, Asta Smart, made her suite her home.

"Our first tenant moved in one year ago in February of 2022. Then many followed suit after. I believe we are pretty much at full occupancy," says Matthews-McCulley. "We did a bit of a phased move-in with 53 units. I'm sure you can imagine that took some time to get everybody in, but I believe by the end of May, we were pretty much at full capacity here."

Adrienne Matthews-McCulley addressing the residentsAdrienne Matthews-McCulley addressing the residents

She notes there are 53 suites with some in single occupancy making up about 60 tenants altogether.

"What the assisted living offers are two meals a day -- lunch and supper -- and also weekly housekeeping," continues Mathews-McCulley. "It's definitely a really good fit for our tenants here to help them have proper nutrition, socialization, and help them enjoy these later years of their lives. It is 55-plus, obviously, because we're providing meals and housekeeping. What I'm finding is the people have that need for wanting that assistance. A lot of people joke around and say, 'Well, I'd like to come so that I don't have to cook supper every night.' But, obviously, there is a cost to those things. There's no requirement beyond 55-plus." 

Matthews-McCulley says celebrations included some fun with different Villa trivia about their first tenants and some board members. 

"We just really took a moment to sit back, reflect, and be proud of the facility that, not only our volunteer board has created, but also the community that our residents here at Dufferin Villa have created. If there's one thing that has overwhelmed me since taking on this position in November, it is the sense of community that our residents have created here. They genuinely care for each other. I would say they're as close to family as someone could be. They look out for each other. If someone's missing, and not down for lunch, many people are wondering why, and just making sure that there's not a need for some assistance."

StaffDufferin Villa staff

She notes you can see by the number of people who gathered together for the celebration that they care about each other. 

"They all want to celebrate birthdays and milestones. It just very much overwhelms me -- the community that our residents have created here. It's truly fantastic." 

She notes they've had their growing pains over the year. 

"Unfortunately, we have some tenants that have moved on. So, we do have some vacancies currently. Our waitlist is extremely long. It's like 100-plus people. However, I don't think people were expecting any sort of movement yet. So, we do have some vacancies."

dufferinAdrienne Matthews-McCulley with (left to right) Mary Lynn Moffat, Moyra McBurney and Asta Smart

The first resident to live in the Villa is Asta Smart.

"We came in on the 18th of February," says Smart. "It has been wonderful. I really find it is just exactly what Adrienne said. People are so friendly and welcoming, and the food is great and the service is good -- all those things.  Beautiful facility. I don't have any negative comments at all."

Moyra McBurney also explains it's been good living there since February 26 of 2022.

"I'm getting less mobile, so standing up in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove was no longer anything I'd really wanted to do," says McBurney. "So, to get rid of the cooking was wonderful. And to have a beautiful suite -- the suites are very spacious, very full of light from good window sizes, and we are well-cared-for. We get our housekeeping done. All kinds of benefits. It's wonderful. We were the Guinea pigs trying it out, and I don't think any of us have left, I mean, not by design, anyway."


Mary Lynn Moffat says she also agrees that it's a wonderful community at the facility.

"Everybody is so caring about each other, a lot of fun, a lot of opportunities to get together and socialize, and that's what a lot of us needed, you know, with COVID and that," notes Moffat. "Everyone was locked down, and to be able to have somewhere that you can actually go and eat dinner with people, and visit. . .  and have a lot of laughs, as well."