Kathleen Robertson sits outside Sherbrooke Community Centre on the day of her 90th birthday. The very active resident of the long-term care home enjoys painting as well as the nearby planter where she can grow some of her favourite flowers. She speaks fondly about the opportunity to care for the tiny plot.

It’s these types of opportunities for residents that brought Sherbrooke to the attention of the judges in a recent international award. Sherbrooke has been awarded the Master Gardener Award at the 5th Eden Alternative™ International Conference, The Art of Creating Caring Communities: Meeting the Challenges, held in Denver, Colorado in June 2010. The award recognizes “the best of the best” in long-term care world-wide.

90-year old Kathleen Robertson is one of the residents at Sherbrooke Community Centre

“We are proud to be recognized and we share this prestigious award with the residents, staff, volunteers and the families that make up our community. Our people are “world makers” and their commitment and passion for creating a world where residents can dance and sing, make wine, paint, shop, go to church, work, and volunteer is outstanding. They are amazing people,” says Suellen Beatty, CEO of Sherbrooke Community Centre.

The award sites Sherbrooke’s leadership in culture change, creating opportunities for residents through their internationally recognized art program supported by the Meewasin Rotary Club, Saskatoon Progress Club and Habitat for Humanity. They were recognized for their resident-driven “green initiatives”. They have also worked hard to maintain a 10 per cent annual reduction in utility bills as a result of improvements to their mechanical systems. In addition, Sherbrooke started a writing program with the writer-in-residence at the public library and built a butterfly garden with the assistance of the Saskatoon Cosmopolitan Clubs. The project was further enhanced by volunteer support from Potash Corp of Saskatchewan through the United Way Day of Caring. Sherbrooke believes in resident-directed care and started the first resident council in long-term care in the 70s. Most recently Sherbrooke sent two members of their management team to Australia to become master facilitators in the Spark of Life philosophy which is a new way to support and care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The home also boasts a world-renowned gardening and horticulture program. The National Film Board of Canada produced a feature documentary about Sherbrooke which is being shown, to rave reviews, around the world.

“Sherbrooke is an exciting, vibrant and fun village, just like many small towns in Saskatchewan. I love coming to work everyday because I never know what will happen next,” adds Beatty.