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Longtime volunteer continues her giving ways with knitting friends

'We meet in the library on Tuesday mornings, bring our knitting stuff and have a gab session'

Pat MacDonald turned 92 years young on Wednesday and has been making the best of her time with her “gab session” and knitting friends at Waterford Barrie Retirement Residence.

MacDonald has lived at The Waterford on Edgehill Drive for two years, but has been a Barrie resident for 65 years. 

Before he died in 1988, MacDonald said she and her husband enjoyed time on their 40-foot boat and were avid golfers. They had four children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

They spent the winters in the home they built in Florida that MacDonald kept for 12 years after her husband’s passing. 

“I sold it then and moved back permanently and kept busy with volunteer work and got myself a puppy,” MacDonald told BarrieToday.

MacDonald says she has always enjoyed volunteer work. When she got her puppy, she became president of the Barrie branch of Therapeutic Paws of Canada. The organization provides animal resources for human needs — be it physical, mental, educational, motivational or social — through regular visits to hospitals, residences and schools.

“I did that for about eight years, and I loved it very much,” she said. “Through my love of golf, I was the tournament director for the Ontario Ladies Golf Association for three years. I ran the amateur women’s tournaments for the province.”

MacDonald was also the ladies captain at the Barrie Country Club.

When she started living at Waterford Barrie Retirement Residence two years ago, the itch to continue her giving ways led to her putting her creative passion to work. 

“I contacted the RVH (Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre) to see if I could knit for the premature babies, but they told me there was an overstock. So I talked to the Auxiliary and that is how I began knitting afghan blankets for the cancer unit,” MacDonald said proudly. 

MacDonald has enjoyed making afghans and quilts for many years. She says she made them for her kids until “they finally said, 'Mom, we don’t need any more.”

But her hobby led to the formation of a group of Waterford ladies who meet every Tuesday.  

“We currently have eight ladies in the group and have given 208 afghans to the RVH cancer unit and 10 to Hospice Simcoe,” MacDonald said. “We’ve had some requests from the residence here who want to buy some, but until we get a stock on-hand, our next stop is Matthews House Hospice in Alliston.”

While it feels great to give back to the community, MacDonald says there's something that's even simpler that's been happening inside the group and "it's been wonderful."

“The girls just love having something to do and Waterford has donated some money for us to buy yarn, so they’re very supportive of this as well,” MacDonald said. “In the last month, we have finished three and are working on two more. We meet in the library on Tuesday mornings, bring our knitting stuff and have a gab session.”

Although she enjoys giving pieces away, MacDonald says she has many cross-stitch items that she has as keepsakes.

“I have one of my four great-grandchildren where I had sent their school pictures to a lady in Massachusetts who then put them on a graph. I then cross-stitched them and they honestly look like a picture,” MacDonald said. “They took me a year to do, but they are just amazing.”

With all that is happening regarding COVID-19 and keeping retirement residences safe, MacDonald admits she still gets out for a walk around the Waterford's large, two-level parking lot.

“I’ve had to use my walker since I had a hip replacement, but I walk the parking lots twice a day to get fresh air and exercise,” she said. “I also do a lot of reading here; Waterford has an extensive library.”