SURREY — Marilyn Stewart long ago saw a need to help people and families hit hard by Alzheimer’s disease.
With a $10-million donation and clear vision, Stewart in 2007 helped open Czorny Alzheimer Centre, located on 66th Avenue near her family’s Northview Golf & Country Club.
“She was extremely generous and gracious, and very giving of her time,” recalled Louise Brown, clinical manager of the 72-residence Czorny care home.
“She was really a guiding light here, without a doubt.”
Stewart, who died in 2014, will be honoured posthumously Sunday (May 1) during the annual (and renamed) Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s, held at the Eaglequest/Coyote Creek golf course on 152nd Street in Surrey.
Marilyn’s father, Mike Czorny, lived with Alzheimer’s for more than two decades, beginning in 1960, and proper treatment for the disease was scarce during that time.
Following her dad’s death, Stewart went about creating a home-like place for dementia patients, and the Czorny centre was born.
Today, the Fraser Health-operated home is recognized as a model facility in the region.
“The demand for something like this is really huge,” Brown said as she gave the Now a tour of the six “cottages,” each home to a dozen residents, and other building amenities.
“Marilyn really wanted a home with a person-centred touch, and that’s why we have all the cottages, which are all named after flowers, by her, because gardening was her thing.”
A pair of pet rabbits, Spice and Hopper, live in one room of the centre. Down the hall is a hair salon, not far from a family room, for private celebrations. In a “garage” rests a 1912 Ford Model T, which can be polished by those who like cars. As part of an expansion of the facility in 2012, a light-filled “sensory room” was opened.
Some staff and residents of the Czorny centre will take part in Sunday’s walk, which starts at 1 p.m. and is among 23 similar events held across the province in support of Alzheimer Society of B.C. programs and services. For more details and to register, visit WalkforAlzheimers.ca.