Although 90-year-old Leo Hart is still very independent, his daughter, Kathie Davidson, said the day is probably coming when he'll need more help.
She said her mind is at ease now that he's moved from his condo into the new $15-million, 82-unit Lepokoti Seniors' Assisted Living Residence at Finlandia Village.
“I'm out of town quite a bit,” Davidson said. “Knowing my dad is going to be well looked after is paramount to me and the family.”
Leo was one of the speakers at Lepokoti's grand opening Nov. 2. He told those gathered at the event he's very pleased with his new accommodations.
“My compliments go to the dedicated people who make it all possible,” he said.
“All these people have something in common. We call it Sisu. That means guts and determination. Thank you all for a job well done.”
The move also presents Leo with some new opportunities for socialization, his son, Ken Hart, said.
“My dad's a very good bridge player and an excellent chess player,” he said. “So now he'll have more opportunity to find people who may or may not be able to beat him, because he's very good.”
Finlandia Village executive director David Munch said about 50 of Lepokoti's residents already moved in this week, and the building will be fully occupied within the next few weeks.
He said the facility, which has one and two-bedroom apartments, provides services such as meals, laundry, housekeeping and personal care.
“It's kind of in between a long-term care facility and independent living,” Munch said.
Because Lepokoti is funded by the provincial government, it is also able to provide its services at a low cost, with a one-bedroom apartment coming in at $570 a month, he said.
Gerry Lougheed Jr., who led the Sisu capital campaign to raise funds for the project, announced during the ceremony the campaign had raised more than $3.5 million, exceeding its original $3-million goal.
“Our Sisu dream did come true,” he said.
Lepokoti “is a home for the people we love and live with,” Lougheed said. “This is a home that will give a little help so people eat a little better, dress a little better, feel a little better.”
A number of officials were on hand for Lepokoti's grand opening, including Finnish Ambassador to Canada Charles Murto, Sudbury MPP and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci, Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk and North East Local Health Integration Network CEO Louise Paquette.
The provincial government put more than $8.5 million toward Lepokoti's construction, and will also provide ongoing operating funds, Bartolucci said.
“You've come together today to celebrate more than a building, ladies and gentlemen,” he said.
“We've come together to celebrate the Sisu spirit – the spirit of never giving up and realizing your goals. And why? Because at the end of the day, you want to care for the people we collectively serve.”
Murto extended the best wishes of the Finnish government.
Knowing my dad is going to be well looked after is paramount to me and the family.
daughter of Lepokoti resident Leo Hart
“The Finlandia Village is a remarkable example of how to provide the best care for the elderly,” he said. “I wish to congratulate the Sudbury Finnish Rest Home and all of the Finnish community in Sudbury for this very valuable and wonderful work.”
Lepokoti is a beautiful building where “residents can thrive, where their wellness, safety and security will be sustained and enhanced,” Matichuk said.
Paquette said “kiitos,” which means “thank you” in Finnish, to all those involved in making Lepokoti a reality.
“No word in any language better fits today's celebration,” she said.
“Thank you to the Sudbury Finnish community and the board of Finlandia for planning new ways of caring for the frail elderly and for recognizing the need to support our seniors in a way that maintains health, prevents isolation and promotes a strong sense of purpose.”
Brian Koivu, chair of the Sudbury Finnish Rest Home Society, said Lepokoti's grand opening is an exciting time not only for his organization, but for the whole community.
“The building and the fundraising is done, and now we go about creating a home for residents — a home where they will live in a safe and a secure environment, and be cared for as their independence and well being and quality of life requires.”