For the last 21 years, volunteers have been bringing musical joy to patients at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury (CCMHBI).
It started in the old seniors building at the facility, when Janice Mackie and Lorna Jean Lockerby could be found near a piano singing and playing old time tunes.
As new buildings went up and the facility grew, the volunteers found a small space in the area now known as Town Centre, where they would bring out a piano and share an hour of music with any patients wanting to partake.
Soon after, Janice and Lorna were joined by singer/guitar player Maurice Paul, who inquired if the group needed a guitar player after passing by and hearing the music. The trio began playing together and grew to a quartet after Janice came upon Marjie Feil singing and playing on one of the other units.
“It’s hard to count the exact number of Amigos who have come and gone over the years,” says current Amigo Cathy McMillan. “Numerous family members, friends, new musicians, and CCMHBI staff have all been a part of the Amigos family. We even had a member go through a heart transplant who returned to play again!”
McMillan joined the Amigos about a year ago, inspired after watching her neighbours perform in the group.
“The patients just love them,” McMillan says. “They’ll often sing along, and seeing the smiles on their faces is so rewarding.
I think the Amigos should make a record, they are just that good! We truly have been blessed with unbelievable talent over the years and I am so happy to be able to join them as often as I can.”