A list of dignitaries, that included a seven-year-old Port Hardy girl, gathered in Victoria to celebrate the opening of Jeneece Place.
The dream of Jeneece Edroff — who turned 18 on Saturday, the same day as the opening — will provide a home away from home for North Islanders and other families who need to travel to Victoria for medical treatment.
Edroff, who is well known throughout the Island for her fundraising for Variety Club, had the dream of creating a home for the families of sick children after staying in a Vancouver Ronald McDonald House while undergoing treatment for her own medical condition.
Port Hardy resident Abigail McCorquodale was at the opening and appreciates how important this type of facility is going to be for North Island families.
Throughout her life Abigail frequently needed to travel to Victoria for medical treatment.
She was born at Victoria General Hospital and spent her first 100 days in hospital.
“There was no where for families to stay near the hospital,” Abigail said.
“But this place is awesome!”
Abigail and her family were invited to participate in the opening ceremonies.
For Jeneece Place, and Abigail, along with Edroff, cut the ribbon that officially opened the home away from home.
Lt. Governor Steven Point, provincial Minister of Health Mike de Jong, and Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong and Chuck Chandler, chair of the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children, were among others also in attendence.
The ceremony signified Jeneece Place is now passing on the completed house to families in need.
Jeneece was diagnosed at age three with neurofibromitosis, a disease that has caused tumours to grow off every nerve ending in her spine.
She has undergone thirteen surgeries and numerous chemotherapy sessions in Vancouver.
From this experience, she knows how important it is for families to have a warm and supportive place to stay close to the hospital.
Young Abigail was born without a fully formed esophagus, a condition known as esophageal atresia.
She requires ongoing care and has endured 30 surgeries since she was born in 2005.
Each time the family travels to Victoria for Abigail’s care from their home in Port Hardy, it’s a 14-hour round-trip and accommodations are expensive.
Abigail’s family would have benefited from Jeneece Place over the past six years and looks forward to using the facility in the future.
“This facility is going to be an excellent resource for North Island families,” said Abigail’s mother, Brenda McCorquodale.
“Many of our North Island neighbours are going to be able to use this facility, and it will bring them support and comfort in times of great need.”
“The last thing people should have to worry about when their children are facing a medical crisis is where they will sleep or eat.”
The 10,500 sq.-ft. home features 10 family living quarters — each with its own bathroom and television — a games room, a craft room, a movie room, a laundry and kitchen and eating facilities.
The Rotary Clubs of Port Hardy and Port McNeill have both made contributions to the project, and in honour of all Vancouver Island Rotary Clubs contributing in excess of $100,000 to the project, one of the bedrooms in Jeneece Place has been named after Rotary.
Jeneece Place will open for families the week of January 23, 2012 and is expected to serve 600 families every year.