Harvey Pellerin Story
Harvey in his Guysborough Memorial Hospital room with his many treats, then showing his feisty side.
For those of you who do not know Harvey, we want to share some biographical notes about this great local resident. He was born to Francis and Elsie Pellerin and lived his entire life with them until his dad’s death in 1986 and his mom’s passing in 2016. Despite his Cerebral Palsy handicap, Harvey looked after his parents, especially his mom, by doing chores such as cutting firewood, doing household repairs, running errands and assuring that matters were attended to around the property. He was also very connected to his community as a volunteer and often seen working the bar at social events, ringing the church bell before Mass, taking up church collections, distributing Parish Bulletins and being Cross Bearer at opening church Services. For many years, he delivered mail to many locals on his bicycle and ran local errands for those in need. He was a regular visitor to friends throughout the community where he was often invited to a meal, share a snack, or join in a celebration. He was always in the same humour and was a delightful guest! Having learned the basics of carpentry from his dad, Harvey was always busy in his workshop building and repairing things for household use or helping others in need.
Although he was never formally schooled, Harvey learned from others and was fortunate enough to be a member Guysborough Opportunities for Adaptive Lifestyles (GOALS) family since it opened more than twenty years ago. Here he was treated with love and respect and they created a, “Harvey’s Workshop” for him where he built garbage bins and other small wood crafts as requested by the general public. He was also a contributor to the Friday GOALS meals doing deliveries and general tasks as needed. His Counsellors here taught him many life skills such as banking, working with others, grocery shopping and basic kitchen work. Harvey grew to trust and love these people and developed a special bond with Donna Cook and Heather Hadley who took a deep interest in his life.
In early February of this year, Harvey went to his woodshed approximately 5 metres from his house to get firewood in a plastic box he dragged behind him on the icy ground. While doing so, he slipped and fell on the ice and was unable to get to his feet. A passer-by, Tony Winters, saw Harvey on the ground so went to check on him and determined that more help was needed. He got neighbour, Blair Pellerin, to join him and together got Harvey into his house with both realizing that medical help was required. An ambulance was called and Harvey was taken for diagnosis at Guysborough Memorial Hospital where it was determined he had a broken hip.
It may appear that we have broken our promise of “positive reporting” with this story! However, it is the aftermath that we want to share with you which will completely change the complexion of this event. As alluded to earlier, Harvey lives alone with only one remaining sibling, Howard, living in Tewkesbury, Massachusetts. That backdrop paints a very dismal picture for Harvey and in many communities, this could be such. However, let us share what followed.
Friends, extended family and the community responded in the most caring and loving ways. His initial 24 hour stay in Guysborough had him inundated with visitors who kept vigil with him while he awaited a transfer to New Glasgow for hip surgery. Being French speaking with limited vocabulary and comprehension of medical terms, individuals interpreted for him all that was explained by the medical team and what was to transpire over the coming days. Eddy Avery, Mary Avery, Heather Hadley, and Julian Avery were among those who spent endless hours with him to ease his anxiety and quell his fears. Some followed him to New Glasgow and made arrangements for others to visit him there as well. His Pictou cousin, Leslie Avery, spent many hours with him in his post-op room awaiting transfer back to Guysborough while making sure Harvey had all he required to be comfortable.
Upon his return to Guysborough Memorial Hospital, Harvey possibly saw more visitors than most other people that spent time in that great treatment facility. It prompted one medical practitioner to state to a visitor that Harvey “was most fortunate to be from such a caring community”. Countless visitors brought him gifts of clothing, snacks and any other needs he may have had. Some are in regular communication with his brother Howard giving updates and assuring him that Harvey is being looked after.
At the moment, he is in Antigonish receiving daily physiotherapy sessions and showing signs of recovery but we are unsure of what the future looks like for our local hero. Due to COVID 19, he is unable to have visitors and he is reported to be lonely as a result. Another local citizen and friend, Raymond Frazier was also a patient in that hospital and became a regular daily Harvey visitor. However, Raymond was released last week adding to Harvey’s loneliness. While we cannot be with him at this time, discussions have already begun to have a group of friends get his house ready, should he be released to his home. If he does eventually get there, we know that his every need will be attended to as required and requested by him. His cousins Patsy and Leo Pellerin have been his greatest supporters for many years with Patsy providing him with transportation to appointments as far away as Sydney and New Glasgow. Harvey was also a regular Sunday dinner guest at their house and that will undoubtedly continue in some form when he returns. While gifts of food have often been brought to him in the past, this practice is sure to continue when he returns as well. In the meantime, it is heartening to know that in this tiny rural Acadian region, care for each other remains ingrained in the hearts of many.
Community Rallies for Harvey
L-R: Thomas Avery, Norman Mannette, Allister Chisholm, Blair Pellerin
Allister Chisholm, Blair Pellerin
Patsy and Leo Pellerin-Leo is an MS L-R: Vivian P., John Stone, Edward Mannette, René P., Thomas A.,
victim and a great Harvey supporter Chantelle A., Jackie P., Gordie P., Raymond Frazier, Patsy P., Allister C.,
Earl A., Laura A., Howard Frazier, Brian Richard, Kyle Delorey
Gordie P., Allister C., Brian R., Kyle Delorey, Blair P.
Gordie P., Allister C., Brian R., Kyle D., Blair P., Vivian P.
Harvey comes home for a short visit!
Harvey was able to come home with the assistance of medical practitioners to determine how well he could manage living alone in the event that he receives his medical discharge. He spent approximately one hour in his familiar surroundings with neighbour and friend, Blair Pellerin, acting as ambulance driver and community liaison. I am sure the event was both exciting and disappointing for Harvey in being able to finally visit his familiar surroundings before having to return to his hospital environment. After an in depth analysis of his home reality and his level of independence and safety, his various practitioners will make a decision based on all this encompassing information.
(Jude Avery photos)