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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Abbeyfield of Fort St. John, like most organizations, seems to have taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic with low interest from potential tenants.

Board member Robert Zeunart believes this is a sign that the organzation is entering a new era, with new tenants potentially moving in, the organzation looking new house manager, and a recently paid off mortgage.

The communal living space has a capacity of 12 tenants, but currently, only four seniors are residing there. Zeunart believes this is because the pandemic has made residents more cautious about sharing a space with others, especially since the home is for ages 55 and older.

Zeunart believes a common mistake people make is that the Abbeyfield House is a care home for seniors, but he describes it as “seniors independent living in a communal environment.”

“It’s communal in the sense that the residents can take their meals together in the large common room,” says Zeunart.

The building features a central kitchen, laundry room, library and dining/living room area. The cost for a senior to move into the Abbeyfield House is $1315, which includes two meals a day and their own room.

Zeunart says a COVID-19 protocol is also in place.

“We have not had a single case of COVID. There have been no COVID outbreaks at our establishment, which would suggest we’re doing something right.”

Another reason for the lack of tenants is because several residents have moved to long-term care homes over the years, Zeunart notes.

Ann Bergen and her late husband Ben introduced the Abbeyfield concept to local residents and officials in 2006, hoping to bring a house to Fort St. John. The house opened in 2008 on land donated by Ben.

Since that time, Ann has organized many fundraisers intending to pay off the house’s mortgage, which was recently paid off by a former resident.

Frank Milne donated the remaining $28,786 left on the Abbeyfield House’s mortgage on June 1st. Over the last five years, Milne has contributed $93,110 to the house in Fort St. John, where he used to own a trucking company, and has also made it a goal to pay off all the Abbeyfield homes in B.C.

As the house moves into its “new era,” Zeunart says the board is also looking for a new house manager. The position serves as a liaison between the residents and the board and will ensure residents’ needs are being met.

Anyone looking to move into the Abbeyfield House, join the board or apply for the housing manager position can contact Zeunart at 250-262-6175.

For more information about the Abbeyfield House in Fort St. John can click here.

Abbeyfield Canada is a non-profit organization that offers affordable housing for lonely seniors, with 20 homes serving around 215 residents.

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