By Susan Weisenburger
Kelly moved to this area for the girl! In 1981 a beautiful blonde sales lady was transferred to the Spruce Grove area. While looking for a trailer lot she noticed a “For Sale” sign with the owner out front mowing his lawn. She stopped, took a look, and decided it was exactly what she wanted. Her neighbours were friendly and, coincidently, had a single brother. The boy met the girl in July and they were married in October! They started out their lives together in that trailer but have lived in a lot of houses over 36 years of marriage. They’ve learned together how to make a house a HOME.
Kelly’s trade was in printing. He was happy to work for NAIT’s Printing and Graphic Arts Program in the press and bindery section on the Westerra Campus. Unfortunately that campus never really took off, for many reasons, including location and economy. Kelly found himself unemployed with young children and a sick wife. He thought it would be great to work close to home so he could help out more. Thus he went next door to Broxton Park School and inquired about becoming an Educational Assistant. Within two weeks he was offered the job. He has been happy with this new career now for 18 years. He has since been relocated with the Maranatha Christian Program to Brookwood School. Kelly also found employment at Rehoboth Christian Ministries (a group home for adults with special needs) on the weekend night shifts for 10 years while employed at Broxton. Many young men needed a father figure and Kelly was happy to be their “dad” for a time. Residents at Rehoboth are able to have a good life and independence because of the jobs they find in the community.
Kelly and Janna’s lives have always revolved around children. They adopted three children of their own (now 31, 26 and 21) and fostered nearly 30 children (mostly babies) over 20 years. Foster care is a hard labor of love in many sad situations. Kelly’s eyes well up with tears. It was hard to give up a child that you knew was going back to an inappropriate situation. He knows they made a difference with a few kids and will always be thankful for the three children to whom he was able to provide a forever home.
Church life has always been important to Kelly and Janna. In the late 80’s they helped start the Christian Fellowship Church where Kelly served as the first chairman of the board. Today he serves on the worship team, as a supply service leader, in administration, and in welcoming new people. The church reaches out past their local congregation and serves the broader faith community with two unique ministries – the Healing Rooms (prayer ministry) and Freedom Encounters (a 12 week bible based deliverance ministry helping people get beyond past problems).
What does Kelly like about Spruce Grove? His home in a peaceful crescent.
“I have always found work here. I walk to work and walk home for lunch. Those are all things people dream about! I don’t work for money. I like meeting a lot of different people and kids. It’s kinda cool! Even though I don’t get paid over my summer off for two months it has been good for my marriage. Because of the kind of work I chose I was also able to foster and to adopt my children. There is a cost for being wealthy – and it’s usually family. My kids love me and they are good kids.”
As Kelly grows older (soon to be 69) he realizes that he has never needed anything from anybody. He hopes that he will find reasonable living accommodations when he no longer has his independence – reasonably priced and reasonably clean. He also hopes to keep making connections with people who are interested in what he has to say. He would enjoy taking free courses offered by the community and is interested in the services provided at the Pioneer Centre for a $15 annual fee. Kelly is confident that technology will be the senior’s friend. He looks forward to getting groceries on line and FaceTiming important people in his life. He’d even join FaceBook if he found any value in it. He does worry about the high cost of utilities that often force seniors from their own homes. He would like to see the community help seniors by getting them set up to “live off the grid” with such things as solar panels. He believes that giving back in this manner would be a nice way to thank people for their contribution to the community.
At this point in life Kelly is already looking back and realizing that he found what was truly important. “I’m at the end and I know I have done the right thing. We have never missed a meal, we have a roof over our head, we are happy together. We have a good church family and good neighbours. I say ‘Thank You Lord’ for the blessings! But if I could have one wish – it would not be for money – it would be to remember people’s names! Wouldn’t they be freaked out if I just approached them, called them by name and said how good it was to see them again?”
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