CANMORE – Deb Juravleff-Boucher wanted to do something nice for health-care workers.
After 79 visits to the emergency room at the Canmore General Hospital over the last year due health issues her father was facing, the local businesswoman knew when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit that she wanted to find a way to say thank you to the frontline workers who had already been there for her and her family.
“I sat there with a glass of wine and thought, how can I help health-care workers,” Juravleff-Boucher said.
“The nurses and doctors are my lifelines for me and my dad and my mom and my family – it was a brutal 2019 and I wanted to let them know I was thinking of them all.”
Juravleff-Boucher has been a health and wellness professional for the last three decades and owns the local Go Figure Fit Spin and Fitness Studio. She shut down on March 13, a few days before the provincial government declared a state public health emergency, and began to brainstorm with her family.
Thinking of how the masks and constant hand washing was affecting frontline workers' skin, Juravleff-Boucher settled on the idea of gathering simple products such as lip balm and hand lotion to put together a small care package for those she felt needed it most.
The Canmore mom then called the Canmore General Hospital to find out employee numbers and she set off to make 125 care packages.
“You know, having to close both my businesses and my husband is on the frontline as well, and my parents have been in quarantine for nine weeks … I think I really need to do something really positive because there was so much ... going down the tube, and I think it was good morally and something to build my confidence back up,” Juravleff-Boucher said.
Using her empty studio space, Juravleff-Boucher began putting out calls to see if anyone wanted to help collaborate and was soon flooded with donations from across the Bow Valley.
From monetary donations, hand sanitizers, soaps, lip balms, water bottles, foot butter, freshly baked cookies, coffee mugs, to bath salts – Juravleff-Boucher said it took about a month to get everything organized and put together. By the time she was assembling the bags, it was jammed packed with goodies.
“It was just my way of giving back to frontline workers,” she said full of emotion.
“They saved my dad many, many times over the last year and I just wanted to say thank you to them.”
Juravleff-Boucher delivered the 125 bags with her husband Pierre Boucher and her two daughters Chloë and Sasha earlier this month, with a personal note included in each bag explaining who she was and why she was thanking them.
“I put a letter in each bag, saying ‘Hey, hi, my name is Deb and if you don’t know me …' I explained to each staff member why I was doing what I was doing and how I just wanted to show my gratitude to all the hospital staff,” she said.
“In response I got so many emails saying 'thank you,' some sending group pictures, holding their bags saying 'hi and thank you' – some said they did start crying and said they were grateful we thought of them.”
Now that Juravleff-Boucher has delivered the care bags, she said her next focus is figuring out how to reopen her studio with safe physical distancing as Alberta takes a phased approach to its economic relaunch. But in the meantime, she commends Canmore and the Bow Valley for being full of community and encourages those with the time, to pass along the good.
“Canmore is a very resilient town. We have a lot of people in Canmore who are community-minded and stick together,” she said.
“To me, if someone can’t do something as big as putting together 125 care bags, there are people of all ages who are isolating and even the smallest of gestures, a handmade note for people who are stuck in isolation goes a long, long way for people who are hanging on to every thread just to keep positive.
“It doesn’t have to cost money, even knocking on a window and waving to someone in isolation can really make their day.”
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