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Artful advocacy

Seniors' puzzles brighten their home and School of Pharmacy

Teaching and Learning

By Dr. Beverly Fitzpatrick

Memorial’s School of Pharmacy is promoting advocacy and collaboration in a unique manner.

It is showcasing just a few of the hundreds of puzzles created over the years by Maj. Georgie Thorne and Alice Critch, two lively, creative, 94-year-old women living at Glenbrook Lodge, a retirement and assisted-living facility in St. John’s.

The puzzles spark conversation, appeal to our aesthetic senses and provide a joyful atmosphere.

But, most importantly, they make us explicitly think about the role that all of us can play in advancing the well-being of others.

It’s a way that we can pay tribute to the contributions of a sometimes unrecognized group in society: our seniors.

Maj. Thorne has lived at Glenbrook Lodge for about 12 years and Mrs. Critch for about 17 years.

From left are longtime friends Alice Critch and Maj. Georgie Thorne, who spend hours making puzzles at home at Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Unbeknownst to them as children, they grew up four miles from each other, Mrs. Critch being from Fortune and Maj. Thorne from Grand Bank.

They met as young women in Burin and found each other again at Glenbrook Lodge many years later.

Both women knit regularly, Mrs. Critch for family members and Maj. Thorne as part of fundraising for various purposes over the years, such as cancer, the homeless and even as far as Zimbabwe to provide water for hospitals.

At certain times of the year, you can walk into Glenbrook Lodge and in the main lobby you’ll see the pair selling knitted hats, scarves, mittens, baby outfits, etc. to workers, residents and visitors.

Mrs. Critch and Maj. Thorne have a good eye for colourful puzzles, like this one that hangs in the School of Pharmacy.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

All monies raised help people in need — more than $10,000 has been donated over the years.

As well, the two women spend hours together in the living room/lounge completing jigsaw puzzles.

The puzzles adorn the walls of Glenbrook Lodge, and are often given to other residents to brighten their rooms. When asked why they continue to put together puzzles, they cite several reasons.

It gets them out of their rooms for socialization, it brings life to Glenbrook Lodge and Maj. Thorne and Mrs. Critch get to provide a service to the other residents by beautifying the living room and corridors.

They are making a contribution, not only to Glenbrook Lodge but to the many visitors who admire the puzzle-adorned walls and who stop to have a quick chat with them about their puzzles.

School of Pharmacy walls are looking bright thanks to Mrs. Critch’s and Maj. Thorne’s “puzzling” talents.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Friends and families give them puzzles as gifts. You can walk into Glenbrook Lodge any evening except Sundays, and you’ll see Maj. Thorne and Mrs. Critch working on their puzzles, chatting and laughing as they concentrate on completion.

Their hundreds of puzzles have now reached beyond Glenbrook Lodge to enhance the look of the School of Pharmacy.

Their puzzles hang in one of the corridors, garnering the interest of many visitors to the school, and everyone is impressed, sometimes amazed, when they learn about the two women.

Every time a new puzzle arrives, there’s a buzz as people get together to hang it and admire the display.

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