Nurturing Creativity at Promenade: Verbena - Alavida Lifestyles


Featuring our resident Verdana from Promenade by Alavida Lifestyles; Illustration by Krisanne Gonsalves

Meet Verbena! At the age of 99, Verbena has not only embraced the serenity and camaraderie of Promenade but has also become an inspiring figure, sharing her love for art and nurturing the creative spirit of our fellow residents by teaching a resident-led art class at Promenade. In this interview, we dive into her journey, experiences and the bonds she has forged within our senior living home in Ottawa! 

How have you been enjoying your time at Promenade?

Living at the Promenade has been a great experience with all the friendships I’ve made with residents and staff. I also enjoy the dining room with the white tablecloths – each meal feels like being in a wonderful restaurant! 

When I downsized and was thinking of moving here, I asked the management if I could have a small garden outside my patio doors. They were very accommodating, and I am grateful to them – I have been an avid gardener throughout my life, in various homes I’ve lived in. I also have my little dog Lucky here, and the garden allows him to go in and out easily. 

Promenade is situated right across from the Ottawa River, and this makes walking on paths around the building very enjoyable, with nature all around.

What have been some of your favourite experiences living at Promenade so far?

Definitely my friendships with residents and the very helpful staff. I love admiring the various ground gardens and balcony pots tended by our residents. I most especially enjoy sharing new things from my culture with others – for example, Italian foods like pesto or biscotti and I am appreciative of what they share with me – I love learning. 

What are some of the best memories you’ve had here?

I have a few! My most cherished moment was the special dinner for my 99th birthday my family and I had in the party room at Promenade – it was organized by the team here. Also, the various music performances and concerts we have, being able to take my little dog for a walk, and of course, the art classes. 

What motivated you to share your passion for art with others at Promenade?

I noticed that residents were very interested in taking classes and learning new things. Some had also seen my paintings and had expressed an interest in art. Having been an art teacher all my working life as well as an artist, I thought it would be wonderful to expose residents to the experience of creating original art and teach them art techniques. I suggested it to the team here at Promenade and they were very helpful in organizing it. 

In your opinion, in what way does art help our residents at Promenade by Alavida Lifestyles?  

It has been proven that art gives greater meaning to our lives, that it increases our self-awareness and expands our horizons. Art helps people to think and solve problems, to look inside themselves. It also encourages them to try new things and to experiment. 

What kind of art projects have been particularly popular among the residents?

The projects we’ve worked on come from the members’ own ideas. Most have not studied or made any art before this. At first, they were worried about their skills but as they worked on their projects, they became more excited. So far, we’ve worked on collage work and watercolour – which was showcased in an art show at Promenade and we have lots of upcoming exhibitions and shows here that we are looking forward to.