Meet Island kid Emmett: Why this Salt Spring Island family gives back to Jeneece Place
For fifth-generation Salt Spring Island resident, Becky and her husband Dane, fishing is a way of life. And after their middle son, Emmett, recently celebrated his fifth birthday, donating wild-caught salmon from the family business for the Jeneece Place freezer didn’t require a second thought.
Back in December 2015, Becky was feeling very relaxed in her third trimester with her second child. That is, until a sighting of bear tracks during a snowy Mount Washington getaway led to the beginning of contractions the following day, more than a month before her little one’s due date. After a call with her midwife who confirmed she was in labour, Becky and her husband Dane were immediately on their way to Victoria.
Once they arrived at the hospital, labour slowed down and the couple prepared for a long night. After a challenging delivery, Becky had one blissful moment holding baby Emmett before he was swooped away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Being a ferry ride away from home, Dane and Becky didn’t know where to turn while Emmett was getting the health care he needed. Thankfully, a social worker told them about Jeneece Place and quickly discovered it was more than just a bed minutes away from their son in the NICU.
Becky, Dane, and their two and a half year old son, Arlo, stayed at the home away from home for close to 20 days over the holidays and were even able to host grandparents for Christmas dinner.
“I couldn’t imagine being anything more than minutes away from Emmett. My husband and I want to be there every single moment with our babies. Thanks to Jeneece Place, it was easy to be close to Emmett. We took turns going for night feedings and were able to rest in a comfortable, welcoming space when we weren’t at the NICU,” says Becky.
While Becky was able to afford healthy food so she could maintain her milk supply, she was all too aware that this was not the case for many Jeneece Place families.
“I know so many families are either from far-away communities or aren’t able to afford nutritious food while at Jeneece Place. I was very concerned about that for other new moms while I was there. We wanted to do something for them and decided to donate our salmon to the Jeneece Place freezer in honour of Emmett’s fifth birthday,” remembers Becky.
Now five years old, Emmett is a relaxed little guy who loves cozying up to work on an art project or relaxing on a comfy chair on the boat to supervise his parents as they fish. With Emmett having no health challenges related to his premature birth, Becky is especially grateful for Jeneece Place so they could be close to Emmett when he needed it most.
Island families like Becky’s will always need a home away from home while their child is receiving medical care far from home. Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island’s new home away from home, Q̓ʷalayu House, opening this summer in Campbell River, will be critical to holding Island families together at a vulnerable time in their lives.