Improving lives for a decade: Perth Enrichment Program celebrates 10th anniversary

Perth Mayor Judy Brown and PEP’s executive director Suzanne Rintoul
Perth Mayor Judy Brown and PEP’s executive director Suzanne Rintoul enjoy the 10th anniversary celebrations of PEP on April 25. Photo credit: Submitted [PEP].
Posted on: May 1, 2024

It started with a dream over 10 years ago and now they’re celebrating a decade of enriching the lives of people in Perth and surrounding communities. 

The Perth Enrichment Program (PEP) Seniors’ Therapeutic Centre has been servicing older adults, providing programs to help them stay at home longer. PEP has also been providing respite for their caregivers. 

Established in 2014 by a local physician, Dr. Bob VanNoppen, and registered nurse Suzanne Rintoul, PEP emerged in response to the escalating needs within the Perth and Smiths Falls communities and the directives outlined in Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care’s Seniors Strategy. 

PEP embodies a holistic approach to care, guidance, and therapy tailored to empower older adults to maintain their well-being and independence at home for as long as possible. 

Community gathered at the Perth-Upon-Tay Royal Canadian Legion on April 25 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Perth Enrichment Program (PEP) Seniors’ Therapeutic Centre. Photo credit: Submitted [PEP].

It has a community-based adult day program, named to infuse a “little pep” into seniors’ lives, and is dedicated to offering support and enhancing the functionality of older adults. Operating within a secure environment, the team’s structured and comprehensive therapeutic program ensures safety and engagement. 

As well, caregivers receive invaluable respite, knowing their loved ones are in capable hands while attending the day program.

PEP celebrated the 10th anniversary on April 25 at the Perth-Upon-Tay Royal Canadian Legion.

“As we began practicing at the Isabella Street clinic we were in awe of the number of older adults in the community. We were very shocked to hear over and over again that these older adults were in fact caring for their spouses,” said Rintoul, during the evening of celebrations. 

She told a story about Gladys, one of her clients, who inspired her to open a day program for seniors. 

“Gladys would come for an appointment, and tell us she was in a hurry and wanted to be in and out as quickly as possible. She would then run to get her groceries and hurry home to her caregiving responsibilities. Despite Gladys’ rush to get home, she always took the time to tell us a good joke,” Rintoul said. 

Gladys had inspired Rintoul so much that she approached Dr. VanNoppen about the plan. 

His response? “That’s great – so let’s do it!”

“Bob and his wife Babs built the Elliot Street Clinic (in Perth) and very generously made a wonderful space that would be the home of the PEP – Seniors Therapeutic Centre. After many months of planning, we opened the doors in April of 2014.”

Over the past decade, the team has embarked on a journey fueled by compassion, dedication, and a shared vision of ensuring that seniors can thrive in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible, Rintoul remarked. 

“As we reflect on the past 10 years, we are reminded of the countless lives we have touched, the smiles we have brought, and the challenges we have overcome together,” she said. “Our mission to provide caregiver support and empower seniors has been the reason for our driving force.”

Babs VanNoppen, Suzanne Rintoul and Jen Perkin.
Dr. Beth-Anne Van Noppen, Suzanne Rintoul (executive director), and Jen Perkin (board chair) celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Perth Enrichment Program (PEP), on April 25 at the Perth-Upon-Tay Royal Canadian Legion. Photo credit: Submitted [PEP].

She extended her “deepest gratitude to Dr. VanNoppen, whose tireless dedication and leadership, not only as a board member but totally happy to support however possible, have been instrumental in shaping the organization’s success. Together he and his lovely wife Babs have helped to organize fundraisers such as the Highlands Hunt, Tradesman Tournament, to the exhilarating Docs on Ice Tournament. His unwavering commitment has been an inspiration to all of us.”

Rintoul also expressed her appreciation to clients, staff, board members, volunteers, and business owners who have made the program such a success. 

VanNoppen said PEP is all about people and their caring for each other. 

“And so, when I think of PEP, I tend to think of the people more than the idea or the program or the place.”

He spoke of the partnership with Rintoul. 

“Suzanne and I have been two people with a great idea, and I can’t even imagine how things would be different if we had not shared it and developed the administrative ability to act on our idea,” he said. “But most of all, Suzanne, thank you for your passionate care for the elderly, your love for them, your drive to see them be helped, your connection to them. That is what really matters and I can’t say thank you enough for your heart for them. I think that is where your strength comes from.”

VanNoppen shared his appreciation for Jen Perkin, board chair, who has been with the organization from the beginning, helping to navigate the twists and turns along the way. He spoke of his gratitude to Pauline Fitchett, the former executive director (a position now filled by Rintoul), and her “good heart” and “cheerfulness.” He also thanked current board members Don Rouse and Becky Bellamy for their experience and deep community connections.

VanNoppen said they wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for funding from the Ministry of Health over the years, as well as the support received from the Smiths Falls and Perth physician-led Family Health Organizations, who “have been instrumental” in the team’s success at PEP. 

“I would like to thank my wife Babs for helping me so much, letting me spend so much time and money and brain space and emotion on PEP, for her courage and sense of what is important in life,” he said. “A wise person once said, ‘No person can live happily who regards themselves alone, who must turn everything to their advantage. You must live for others if you want to live for yourself’ … and you live that out.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News