Above: Donna Phinney at her desk at Aspen House. – Lucie Roy Photo
by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
After serving two terms as town councillor covering six years from 2004 to 2010 and serving ten years as the Facility Manager Supportive Living Alberta Health Services (AHS) at Aspen House, Donna Phinney is ready for an early retirement.
“I will miss them. I will miss my employees, my residents, they have enriched my life,” Phinney said.
Donna Phinney wanted to ensure that Morinville’s seniors were taken care of, that was her passion.
She was working for Shepherd’s Care in Edmonton as Operations Assistant, took over as General Manager of Ashbourne run by Shepherd’s Care then came to work in Morinville when she was asked to take over Aspen House by Mueller, the Director of Supportive Living for AHS.
What enticed her and was the best experience at Aspen House was living and working in the community, and being a part of it.
“We turned this building around. It was not the nicest looking on the inside. We’ve done a lot of work but not solely on me. I had a lot of help. I mean if Kendra [Curry] weren’t here, I would not have been able to get half this stuff done. Kendra Curry worked with me almost ten years and has literally been my right hand. It is not all me it is a team effort.”
Phinney said in the first six months she took over the building, she and Curry were there 12 to 14 hours a day.
“We fondly look back on our time here,” Phinney said. “It is going to be hard to leave. Absolutely. But it is time. I will regret leaving, but I am leaving it in good hands.”
Phinney’s duties, which include overseeing 72 residents and 138 staff will be shared by Christy Dudzic, who is currently the Clinical Services Manager (CSM) and RN by trade will remain as CSM and will take on some of Phinney’s duties with Kendra Curry taking the rest.
“There were lots of changes in ten years,” Phinney recalled. “The biggest change was bringing on the secure unit (Aspen Villa). That brought along a lot of challenges and the partnership between AHS and the owner Rosedale. That brings its own unique issues. You have to work in between the two of them. You work as AHS employee, but you also have to operate the building for the owner, so there are some challenging factors.”
Phinney is familiar with military life. It was mostly her mother Marianne who raised Donna and her three sisters Carole, Wendy, and Dede. She was brought up in a military family, so she said she knew what she was getting into when she married Keven.
Her father, Arthur Green, served with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) – Ldsh (RC). Her father served more than 30 years, was a WWII and Korean War veteran who was the second most highly decorated soldier of Strathcona’s.
Keven served for 32 plus years in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Supply Technician and retired in 2007 as a Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS). Keven did seven tours and was gone 106 months out of country in his career. Tours included Egypt, Sierra, South West Africa, three tours in Bosnia and stationed in Germany twice. Keven also has many medals, but the main ones he said are his Order of Military Merit presented by Governor General in 2002 and his tour medals.
After 20 years in Morinville, Donna and Keven Phinney are looking at potentially moving to Nova Scotia this summer which is where Keven calls home and has roots there.
“It is all about the house selling,” Keven said, adding their three children, Tyler from Morinville, Madison and Kolby and three grandchildren would remain in Western Canada.
“I have three wonderful children grown up to be contributing members to their community,” Donna said.
Phinney Strong Golf Tournament
Keven said the golf tournament will continue and is booked for Aug. 26 at the Edmonton Garrison Memorial Golf Course. Both he and Donna will be here for the event which is in its third year. In the last two years, they have raised more than $5000 of which some monies were used to supply a wheelchair to another in need.
Donna said they want to travel, go back to Europe and with both of them now retired they can do that. They can just hop on a plane and go.
“I would not change anything in my life,” she said. “I have been fortunate to be posted from coast to coast, to Europe. We are coming up to our 40th wedding anniversary. I have known my husband for 42 years. You can’t say that about too many military couples. We have two friends of all those we’ve known that are still together. The military sucks everything out of you. It is a hard life. No doubt about it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
They were married in Calgary the same day – Apr. 1 – the same day and the same church as her parents had.
Donna enjoyed being on Council and said there is no doubt she would do it all over again. But working full time and doing Council was difficult.
“You are on call 365 days of the year,” she said. “I take my cell phone with me on holidays. That is just what is expected. You are on call 24 hours a day. It got too much. There are sacrifices, but there are sacrifices everywhere.
At Aspen, Phinney was also on call 365 days a year, 24/7.
“That is just expectations, and you either do it, or you don’t.”
A Farewell to Donna Social was scheduled for Apr. 29 at 1 pm at Aspen House.