Centennial Centre to celebrate 100 Years of Caring

By Mike Rainone

For the News

For those of us who have had the privilege of living and working in and around Ponoka, or likely for as long as we can remember, the massive psychiatric treatment centre a couple of miles southeast of town has grown steadily to become one of the finest mental health care and training centres in the world.

Along the way, through steady construction and several name designations, the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury has and always will be a vital part in the development of the region.

Since its humble beginnings on July 4, 1911 (16 initial patients) the hospital has developed and expanded rapidly over the past century, as well as establishing a proud reputation of providing first class care and treatment to thousands of patients from throughout Alberta and beyond. Under the constant direction and dedication of several generations of professional staff in all facets of the busy year-round 24-7 operation, the hospital has seen countless successes as well as many changes along the way to progress and meet with constant medical advances and trends!

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of this ultra-modern hospital, a gala reunion weekend is in the final planning stages for July 29 to 31, 2011. This ‘100 Years of Caring’ reunion will feature many exciting events, to be hosted at the Centennial Centre, the Ponoka Kinsmen Community Centre, and throughout the community. A cordial invitation has been extended to former staff, clients and families, to the community, and to everyone interested in attending this casual event, where they can salute and share the long-standing history and day to day commitment to the care and well being of the patients.

Throughout this exciting summer 2011 reunion and celebration, representatives from Alberta Health Services and various levels of government will be on hand. Here are highlights of the events that the 100 Year Reunion Planning Group are putting together, with more information to follow in the near future.

• Opening ceremonies will be held on Friday, July 29 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Centennial Centre Gymnasium. Patients, staff, and special guests will greet and mingle with visitors.

• Registration for the rest of the 100 Year Reunion weekend will be hosted on July 29 from 4 to 10 p.m. in the Kinsmen Community Centre. This will feature a casual drop in session where guests, classmates, and colleagues can register and get information about the events, while enjoying coffee and conversation.

• A hospitality evening will be hosted July 29 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre. This will be a great opportunity to get acquainted and reminisce with guests, as well as being treated to snacks, songs, skits, and an open mike to extend welcomes and share your special story!

• A busy Saturday, July 30 will kick off with a reunion buffet breakfast and western spread from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Kinsmen Centre.

• The Kinsmen Centre will also be the evening scene of a great reunion dinner and dance, starting with cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m., and dance at 8:30 p.m.

• The final day of the gala ‘100 Years of Caring’ Reunion weekend on Sunday, July 31 will begin with a continental breakfast from 9 to 10:30 a.m., followed by an interdenominational Sunday church service, both at the Kinsmen Community Centre.

• Also featured on both Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, will be tours of The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, as well as the Fort Ostell Museum in the Ponoka Lions Centennial Park. The hospital tours will be hosted on July 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. and on July 31 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Fort Ostell Museum tours will be held on both days from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and will feature a delightful glance of 100 years of hospital artifacts, uniforms, medical instruments, and other classic memorabilia. All events and parking are on a first come, first serve basis, with no reservations.

As well as reminiscing and many special events at this 100 Year Reunion, guests will have the opportunity of sharing photos and mementos, as well as purchasing a small or large historical scrapbook of the glorious years and memories of the Ponoka Hospital. Plans are also being made to produce permanent trail markers depicting the colourful history of the hospital, which will be placed permanently for the enjoyment of everyone along the walking paths at the Centennial Centre.

As there will be fees for some of the events during the reunion, pre-registration before July 4 is very important to declare attendance numbers for planning the various venues. Any surplus funds from the event will be donated toward a future project that will directly benefit the patients at The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury. Registration forms and information for the ‘100 Years of Caring’ Reunion Weekend are now available by contacting Marilyn Nakonechny at 403-783-7777 or Marilyn Hoffman at 403-783-7862.

Please spread the good word and make plans to join this very special celebration.

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