Christmas feast put on for ‘the forgotten bunch’

Article from The Province.

They are often forgotten at Christmas time.

To help put some holiday cheer into the lives of 28 mentally ill patients, Milani Plumbing Drainage & Heating cooked up three 30-pound turkeys with
all the fixings on Thursday.

Company president Vern Milani said they had eight employees start at 5 a.m. to get the big birds ready for the in-patients.

“They always get forgotten,” Milani said of the in-patients at the hospital’s mental health unit. “It is always the kids who get the attention —
these are the forgotten bunch.”

Milani said plumbing technician Jason Weeks was the lead cook. He deep-fried the birds before throwing them on the barbecue to get them ready for the
noon meal.

Pam Vickram, the manager of the mental health ward, said Christmas time can be tough on the in-patients because they are not allowed to leave the hospital.

The turkeys, she said, give the in-patients a sense of Christmas and that people care about their problems. “It gives them a celebration for the holidays,”
she said.

“They feel they are getting something special.

“They don’t feel left out.”

The patients suffer from a variety of disorders, Vickram said, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance abuse.

The average stay for the patients ranges from 11 to 12 weeks.

“They are very happy something like this is being done for them,” added Vickram of the festive luncheon put on for the patients and staff of the unit.

Due to the hospital’s privacy concerns, the patients were not allowed to speak to the media.

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