Some birthdays just mean more than others – and Jeneece Edroff’s 18th birthday was a very special one for her. On January 20th, Jeneece celebrated her birthday by attending the Grand Opening of Jeneece Place – the ‘home away from home’ for families travelling from other parts of Vancouver Island for health treatments for their children.
At age seven, Jeneece began her fund raising career by starting a coin drive for the Variety Club and raised a total of $164.00. The Kids Coin Drive for Variety is now in it’s 10th year and has raised over $1.5 million dollars.
At age three Jeneece was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a disease that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways in the body. The disease targeted her spine and as a result she has had to wear a body brace and undergo painful surgeries and chemotherapy. But Jeneece proved herself a fighter – although, at one point, doctors believed she would not walk again, and would not live past ten years of age she has proven them wrong. She has also proven her abilities as a fund-raiser and visionary.
Jeneeces’ dream of a home away from home, to help families coping with serious illnesses in their children, received a tremendous boost with the 2009 pledge from Telus toward the building of Jeneece Place. In 2010 land for the home was donated. By 2011 the house was well underway. Donations continued to come in from Variety Club, $100,00.00, and from Telus Van Isle 360 – $25,000.00 plus a host of smaller contributions, all gratefully received, and all essential to the success of the venture. This past September the Capital Regional Hospital District met with Jeneece and after her explanation of what the house would offer – a large communal kitchen, theatre, patio and ten bedrooms, among other features – they voted a donation of $250,000.00 toward construction costs.
This very special house is located next to Victoria General Hospital and expects to serve 600 families annually. At the Grand Opening, people had tears in their eyes when they realized what a warm and welcoming setting is being offered to families at a time when they most need support and encouragement. The first families would move in before the end of January 2012.
There is more yet: Fairway Markets plan to ‘help pack the pantry’ at Jeneece Place. They will collect donations, or shoppers may buy a bag of groceries for the house. The Bay outlets on Vancouver Island are partnering with the Queen Alexandra Foundation by donating numerous pots and pans and offering the opportunity for shoppers to choose a gift from the Gift Registry of items selected for Jeneece Place.
Over 2,200 gifts have been received from a few dollars to one million dollars. That shows the concern and dedication of British Columbians for the smallest and most vulnerable of our citizens. We want the best for our children, and time and again, our citizens have reached up to the challenge and met it – we have a great record!
So a little girl with a serious illness, a big dream and much energy has shown how to achieve a huge goal in a short span of time. To have collected donations and rallied so many people to help her, in a few short years has brought a much-needed facility to fruition. Our hats are off to you Jeneece! And thank you for all your hard work.
The above report was written by Ruth Fenner, who is a Director on the British Columbia Women’s Institute Board and President of Somenos Women’s Institute. Pictures submitted by Sandra Rowan, President of the Royal Oak Women’s Institute.
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