Robin’s Story: The More We Get Together …

Do you remember that simple tune from childhood?

The more we get together, together, together
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.

(If’ the song is not stuck in your head yet, check out this Raffi video)

That song evokes the kind of morning we have once a year when all members of The Cridge Centre for the Family Society are invited to breakfast – a time of sharing stories and appreciation for the service of our society members.

In between the welcome, the grace, the thank you speeches and the dismissal lies the meat of the morning – the bacon, yes, but more importantly the client presentation. Including stories straight from the mouths of those we serve is inspiring, moving and rewarding.

Robin and Geoff

Robin (L) with Geoff Sing (R), Manager, The Cridge Brain Injury Services.

This year’s presenter Robin Bienvenu has been a client of the Cridge Brain Injury Services for the past 5 years. Seven years ago today Robin, an otherwise healthy young adult with a secure job, a thriving business, and a brand new baby son, slipped into an unanticipated coma.

After 48 days Robin woke up, the myelin in his brain and nervous system so destroyed by acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) that he felt like little more than “a head on a pillow.”

With few functioning nerves in his body, Robin couldn’t even feel the weight of himself in his bed.The seven major areas of Robin’s brain were all impacted by ADEM, impacting his memory, motor function, sight, emotions, and more. Because he didn’t fit the model of who ADEM generally attacks, it took four years for Robin to be diagnosed. He considers himself lucky in some ways – the myelin in Robin’s body regenerated so that he is now mobile and active. He remains legally blind though, and this unavoidable brain injury took Robin’s relationship and his livelihood.

Connecting with The Cridge Brain Injury Programs was “a god-send” for Robin. He spent two years living in Mary Cridge Manor, which offers independent living with support, and even though he has moved on to his own independent housing, Robin stays connected with the community kitchen and community garden programs. Working with other brain injury survivors, both on staff and with his fellow clients, Robin has relearned much of what the ADEM had stolen from him in his physical recovery. He has also grown as a leader, developed new passions, and returned to school.

As of this fall Robin will be studying at the University of Victoria with the hopes of becoming a registered counsellor who works with people with disabilities. His good humour (Robin cracked that Christmas shopping with his white cane is like being Moses parting the Red Sea), his optimism, and his appreciation of life will be great assetts for Robin as he takes this next step in his schooling and as he continues to bless the clients and staff he meets at The Cridge Brain Injury Services.

We are blessed with faithful and committed society members, and a driven and passionate Board of Directors. Having them all in the room to hear Robin’s story is one small way of showing them how important they are.

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Chef’s Corner: Apple & Celery Turkey Sliders

Fresh, crisp, and fun – what more could you want in a weekend meal? This take on the slider trend makes use of lean ground turkey and the snap of apple and celery.

Apple and Celery Turkey Sliders 

Yield: makes about 20 small patties

  • 1 kg ground turkey mixed
  • 100 ml green onions chopped
  • 200 ml celery minced
  • 2 apples peel on and small diced (any local apple that you like)
  • 45 g butter unsalted
  • 10 ml salt
  • 3 ml white pepper
  • ½ lemon juice and zest
  • ½ bunch parsley minced
  • 2.5 ml ground sage


  • Cook the green onions, celery and apples in butter until tender. Let cool.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and combine.
  • Using a scoop or tablespoon form into patties.
  • Refrigerate approximately two hours (they can also be refrigerated overnight for use the next day).
  • Cook in a skillet using a small amount of butter until golden on both sides.
  • Place on a rack and finish cooking in the oven @ 350 °F until an internal temperature of 74°C or 165°F is reached (use a probe thermometer).
  • Serve on small buns or on their own with a side salad dressed with cranberry mayo (consisting of equal amounts of cranberry sauce and mayo) or your favorite condiment.

Nik Seniors' ServicesNik Milonas, Executive Chef at The Cridge Village Seniors Centre, is a Certified Chef de Cuisine.

Nik believes that “cooking is the best gift you can give. I believe in serving people fresh food grown as close to home as possible as it provides the best taste and nutrition.”

Can we talk about your will?

This week – March 31 through April 5 – has been declared Make A Will Week by the British Columbia Ministry of Justice. Making a will is one of those potentially uncomfortable adult tasks that we often want to avoid, yet having a valid will is the best way to ensure that the people and charities who matter to you will be taken care of when you pass.

Make a Will Week: March 30 - April 5

While the Ministry of Justice website has a considerable list of resources to help you with the important legal and financial considerations in planning your estate, it helps to take a bit of time before you get to those technical issues and consider questions such as:

  • What and who really matters to me?
  • What legacy would be meaningful to leave in my community?
  • After my family is taken care of, what might I leave to charity?
  • Is there anyone (a spouse or other family member) who I should include in answering these questions?

Once you know what you’d like to have happen, it’s important to make sure that the people in your life are aware of your wishes. Here are some suggestions (taken from Forbes Magazine online) on how to make the important questions and potentially difficult conversations about estate planning easier:

  1. Choose (or plan) a quiet moment with few distractions to approach the subject – a Sunday drive, an evening walk, or a quiet moment after dinner, for example.
  2. Open with a story. We have a few about the legacies that have been left in our care, or you may want to talk about what has worked – or not – regarding how people you know have left their estates.
  3. Consider who, besides your spouse, you need to talk to and whether those conversations, for example with adult children, should happen en masse or individually.
  4. Give people who matter to you room for input, and be willing to explain your thinking, values, and decision-making process.
  5. Finally, be sure to confirm your decisions with a neutral third-party professional: your financial advisor, accountant, a notary public, or your lawyer – to ensure that what you intend will be carried out in your estate and that the written document reflects your intentions.
  6. By the way, remember to update your will after important life events (for example. the birth or death of an heir or dependent, a significant change in estate value, a change in marital status)

There are many ways to include charitable giving in this process, and many great reasons to do so. We are happy to provide information on the how, what and why to give, and encourage you, again, always to check  with your estate planning professional on what makes the most sense for your estate.

Approaching estate planning as an assessment of what you value changes the conversation from one that brings up ghoulish spectres to one that focuses on your values, on a Biblical standard of stewardship, and as a legacy-creating gift that provides for what matter to you beyond your life.

If you’d like to talk to someone about bequeathing a gift to The Cridge Center for the Family, please call or email Shannon Whissell: (250) 995-6419 or

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I am wearing orange because …

Since July 2012 staff and clients of The Cridge Centre for the Family have participated in Orange Day, a global initiative of the UN Women, that takes place on the 25th day of each month.

This month, on March 25th, we are taking on the challenge to ‘Orange our community’ and spread the Orange Day message that violence against women and girls has to end. It’s a simple plan that will get better with each and every participant.

If you’d like more information, or want someone to come speak to your organization about Orange Day and anti-violence initiatives, please email Shannon Whissell, Manager of Communication & Fund Development at swhissell @ cridge . org

We’d LOVE for you – our community partners, supporters, and suppliers – to participate. It’s easy to do:

I am wearing orange because ...

Click to read all the messages from staff.

  • Finish the sentence “I am wearing Orange because …” on this template: Orange_Day_COMMUNITY
  • Print it out
  • Take a photo or video of yourself with your sign
  • Upload your photo/video to Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube and tag it with #ORANGEDAY*
  • We will re-share your picture/video while we’re adding our own!

* If you aren’t on social media, email your picture to Shannon and she’ll add it to our streams with whatever message you would like.

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Fun, Family, Food and New Friends

As we mentioned earlier this week, we had the distinct and unusual pleasure on Sunday of celebrating the birthday of Kendrick Sampson, along with his co-workers who are in town filming the TV series “Gracepoint”  (note: this link is to an excellent fan page, not the official website).

Kendrick, Candace and Gyneth get to know one another.

Kendrick, Candace and Gyneth get to know one another.

The afternoon was, in short, wonderful. Respitality client families, cast and crew members, and Cridge leadership mingled in the penthouse City Club Lounge at the Parkside Hotel and Spa. A delicious array of snacks from Crumsby’s and great beverages kept adults and children alike smiling, while party-goers swayed, and occasionally danced, to the jazzy music of Maureen Washington and Karel Roessingh. A dress-up photo booth, face-painting and activities on the rooftop patio helped to keep the children entertained.

Thank you to our sponsors, without whom the party would not have happened!

Thank you to Kendrick for sharing his birthday with us!

And Thank you to everyone who came out for the afternoon to celebrate with us!

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Wasn’t That a Party!

Sometimes someone comes along in life who seems to live to put a smile on other people’s faces. In our recent experience, Kendrick Sampson is one such person. A charming, handsome actor working in Victoria for a few months, Kendrick could easily skate through life on his good looks and rising celebrity, but that’s simply not who he is. Kendrick is humble, compassionate, a lover of Jesus and people, and a committed community supporter, – whatever community he is in.


It’s not often that we get phone calls from actors who want to dedicate their birthday party to supporting our programs, so when Kendrick called, we took on making it his birthday a special occasion. Kendrick invited his local friends – the cast and crew of the production he is working on – and we invited several client families with children, some of whom have special needs. It’s safe to say a good time was had by all!

The party was, in the words of one attendee, “heart-warming, stylish and seamless.” We can’t take all the credit for that, however, as our amazing community partners really stepped up to make the event spectacular, including

  • The Parkside Hotel and Spa, who hosted the party in their beautiful City Club Lounge
  • Kevin Wensley of MacDonald Realty, who sponsored most of the food
  • Crumsby’s Cupcake Food whose amazing snacks & service with a smile
  • Vertical Wine Consulting and their contribution of a case of Joie Farm’s ‘A Noble Blend’
  • Mike Hartshorne* of DFH Realty (*Personal Real Estate Corporation) who sponsored the champagne toast
  • Decorate Victoria with Huff n Puff, whose wall of Cridge balloons cheerily greeted guests as they exited the elevator

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We’ll have another post soon with pictures of the fun, but for now we want to thank our generous partners who made the party the success it was.

Chef’s Corner: Frozen Strawberry Mousse

strawberry_mousseYou’ve had a lovely quiet evening. Maybe you had a delicious dinner of Greek Style Chicken for 2 to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now you’re ready to finish it off with a light, luxurious touch. What could be better than frozen mousse in a heart-shaped mold, maybe drizzled with a little melted chocolate?

Of course, we’ve offered you some other flavour variations for other special occasions as well.

Frozen Mousse

Create the Meringue:

  • 125 g (approx. 4) egg whites
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils.
Have a pastry brush in a cup of warm water handy in case any sugar crystals form.
If this happens just wash them down.
Boil until the syrup registers 117°C on a sugar thermometer.
While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites in a mixing machine until they form soft peaks.
With the machine running, very slowly beat in the hot syrup avoiding the whisk.
Continue to beat until the meringue is cool and forms firm peaks.

Add Flavour Variation:

  • Berry Mousse – Force 250 g fresh or frozen berries through a sieve. Add to the meringue
  • Liquer Mousse – Add 90 ml liquor like brandy or dark rum to finished meringue (blend in)
  • Chocolate Mousse – Melt 125 g chocolate- stir in some meringue then fold chocolate mixture into finished meringue
  • Lemon Mousse – Add 90 ml lemon juice and the grated zest of 1 lemon to the meringue
  • Apricot Mousse – Soak 200 g apricots overnight, then simmer until tender. Drain and puree, then fold into meringue.

Add Cream to Flavoured Meringue:

  • 375 ml Heavy cream

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks then fold into the cooled meringue and freeze in spring form pan, heart shaped mould,  or freezable container.

For Frozen Raspberry Mousse Cake, freeze the mixture in a spring form pan and unmold before serving cutting into desired size. I suggest serving with warm berry compote, chopped fresh berries, or a drizzle of melted dark chocolate.

Nik Seniors' ServicesNik Milonas, Executive Chef at The Cridge Village Seniors Centre, is a Certified Chef de Cuisine.

Nik believes that “cooking is the best gift you can give. I believe in serving people fresh food grown as close to home as possible as it provides the best taste and nutrition.”

Chef’s Corner: Greek Style Grilled Chicken for 2

Whenever we see 'Greek Style' in the description on the menus here at The Cridge Centre, we know we are in for a real treat. Chef Nik learned his love of cooking at the side of his Greek mother and grandmother, and the passion, love and care they put into their food continues on through Nik's skill. 

Greek Style Grilled Chicken for 2


  • 1 lemon (zest & juice)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbp. oregano
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp each of salt & pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  • Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
  • Rinse chicken breasts under cold water and pat dry.
  • Add chicken to the marinade and allow to take in these flavours for minimum 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Preheat your barbeque. Now here’s where the adventure begins!
  • With your tongs lift the chicken out of the bowl scraping any excess marinade off on the lip of the bowl and place chicken on the hot part of your barbeque (be careful – there will be flames).
  • Sear the chicken on both sides (about 2 minutes per side)
  • Move the chicken to the medium heat part of your barbeque.
  • With the remaining marinade that is in the bowl start basting your chicken, turning over as needed to cook the chicken thoroughly and evenly.
  • Use up your marinade before the chicken is done because you don’t want to add any of the marinade to the chicken after it is cooked; that would not be safe. You want to cook the chicken with the marinade.
  • Cook the chicken until clear juices are flowing or to an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius.
  • Finish it with a squirt of lemon and some good extra virgin olive oil on the plate.
  • Serve this with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc if you like wine, and your favourite salad.

YIELD: 2 servings

Nik Seniors' ServicesNik Milonas, Executive Chef at The Cridge Village Seniors Centre, is a Certified Chef de Cuisine.

Nik believes that "cooking is the best gift you can give. I believe in serving people fresh food grown as close to home as possible as it provides the best taste and nutrition."



Thank you.

In the course of going about our business here – in wiping a crying child’s nose, comforting a lonely senior, teaching a brain injury survivor a new recipe, or finding a young mom her first home – we often receive the most gracious of thank you notes. In The Cridge Respitality Service, Mimi Davis has preserved years worth of these notes in binders. Other program coordinators and managers pass on particularly poignant thank-yous to the other the management team and staff members.

One place the thank you’s rarely make it is back to our donors, society members and supporters – the people who make it possible for us to do our work. And so, for the next 12 weeks, we will be sharing some of these thank you notes with you. These are by no means the only thanks we receive; they are not even representative of every program we have. What they are is a sampling of the kind of difference that your support makes.

Every two weeks, we will update the thank you here on the website, and on our social media streams. Be sure to check back for the next installation. [flgallery id=20 /]

Chef’s Corner: Chef Nik’s Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cookies

This is what you picture when you picture the perfect cookie and a chocoholics dream: three kinds of chocolate, crackling cocoa outside, chewy gooey fudge on the inside, and a nice crunch of nut to give it texture. This is the kind of cookie that has to be locked away or it goes missing.

Chef Nik’s Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cookies


  • 400 g (3 cups) dark chocolate chopped up or good quality chips
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) unsweeted or bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 60 g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 15 ml vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 350 g (1 3/4 cup) sugar
  • 60 g (2/3 cup) cocoa
  • 1.5 ml salt
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 125 g (1 cup) roasted chopped pecans or chopped walnuts
  • 170 g  (1/2 cup) each of dark and white chocolate chips


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Melt the dark and unsweetened chocolate with the butter over a double boiler gently (you want to melt not cook).
  • Whisk the chocolate butter mixture smooth and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer with the wire attachment or with a hand held electric beater, beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and fluffy (ribbon stage).
  • Add the vanilla and chocolate mixture to the eggs and beat in.
  • Combine the cocoa, salt and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together until smooth and combined.
  • Add with the nuts and chocolate chips and blend on low speed until all combined.
  • Pour the batter in a pan cover with clear wrap and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes for the mixture to set.
  • Scoop out using a small ice cream scoop or use a teaspoon to drop small cookies onto parchment line cookie sheets leaving an inch between cookies, do not press down.
  • If you have a convection oven you can bake 3 trays at a time. If you have a conventional oven set the rack in the middle part.
  • Bake cookies for 8 minutes do not over bake or they will be dry. They will be shiny and have cracks on top. Let cool before devouring (if you can!).

Makes about 48 small cookies.

Nik Seniors' ServicesNik Milonas, Executive Chef at The Cridge Village Seniors Centre, is a Certified Chef de Cuisine.

Nik believes that “cooking is the best gift you can give. I believe in serving people fresh food grown as close to home as possible as it provides the best taste and nutrition.”