Jeneece Place: A decade of compassionate care for Island families

A beige and brown house sits behind a green lawn.

January 21, 2022, marked 10 years to the day since we opened the doors of Jeneece Place and began welcoming families of children receiving medical treatment in Victoria. Since its opening in 2012, Jeneece Place has provided a home away from home for 2760 Island families.  Our Annual Giving Manager, Michele McKenzie, connected with Jeneece Place’s House Manager, Christina Peacock, to learn about a typical day at Jeneece Place.

As Annual Giving Manager, Michele oversees community fundraising events and connects generous volunteers and donors to the areas of greatest need at Jeneece Place. Whether that’s a monetary donation or one of quilts for families with premature babies, homecooked meals for families exhausted after a day at the hospital, or time spent weeding the front garden, together we celebrate our Island community who has rallied around Jeneece Place over the decade.

Can you walk me through a typical day in the life at Jeneece Place for parents with premature babies in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?

While timing depends on how a mom’s healing process progresses after birth, most parents get very little rest as they try to spend as much time as possible at the hospital with their babies. Moms are balancing a pumping schedule with a visiting schedule at the hospital, all while attempting to rest to maintain their milk supply.

For babies who are almost ready to go home, moms often go back and forth every three hours throughout the night to feed their baby. Many NICU moms walk to the hospital together at 3:00 am to feed and get a cuddle in with their little one.

When I arrive at Jeneece Place in the morning, I see on our magnet board which families have already gone over to the hospital at 6:00 am. With doctors’ rounds happening at 9:00 am, many parents stay to ask their questions and hear how their baby’s health is progressing. After, they may stay for skin-to-skin time before returning to Jeneece Place for lunch.

Families always express their sincere gratitude for volunteers who come in to make nourishing meals, although that access wasn’t permitted during the pandemic. For many, the last thing on their mind is cooking when they’re exhausted, worrying about their little one, and simply trying to make it through each day.

After lunch, they pump again, have a quick rest, return to the hospital again, and repeat the next day. All in all, NICU parents get very little rest.

Can you walk me through a typical day in the life at Jeneece Place for parents with children in the pediatric unit of the hospital?

When parents have children in the ICU, they’re often there quite a bit during the day but are encouraged to return to Jeneece Place to sleep. Once their child is discharged from the ICU to the pediatric ward, a parent is required to be by their side 24/7. Nurses frequently come in to check on the children throughout the night, so parents are hardly able to sleep.

It’s ideal when there are two parents staying nearby because they’re able to alternate. They can return to Jeneece Place to eat, shower, and rest, before switching with the other parent.

Can you walk me through a typical day in the life at Jeneece Place for parents with children and youth receiving mental health support?

For parents with kids in crisis at Victoria General Hospital or at Ledger House, they frequently stay at Jeneece Place two to four nights every week. Whether their child is five, seven, or 18 years old, it is important for parents to be able to stay close by so their child doesn’t feel abandoned. To have them there with the child to support, learn, and simply be there in their mental health journey.

What message would you like to share with donors who have supported Jeneece Place over the past ten years?

Thank you for making our vital work possible. Families who stay at Jeneece Place express their deep and profound gratitude for having this safe place they can call home. A family that stayed recently gave us a handmade card that read, “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for everything. We would have been lost without you.”

These words are not for us – they are for you, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island donors. Thanks to your generosity, Island children, youth, and families have a warm, comfortable home where they are safe and secure during a vulnerable time in their lives. You make our work possible.