Community Vote Selects The Pines As Recipient For Donated Mural

The Pines Long-Term Care Home
The Pines Long-Term Care Home in Bracebridge. Photo courtesy of the District of Muskoka

Local mural artist Kimberly Rideout painted a bevy of butterflies on the walls of Andy’s House last year and now, she has plans to beautify another local institution: the Pines Long-Term Care Home in Bracebridge.

A longtime painter, Rideout is no stranger to donating murals, but her work at Andy’s House was a special donation to thank the community for its support during her cancer treatment. After her dad died in January, she felt called to donate another mural, so she put a callout to the community for suggestions on where to paint her next piece. Locals responded with ideas including hospitals, hospice centres, shelters and more. In the end, the Pines Long-Term Care Home received the most support and it couldn’t have been a better match.

“My dad is still my hero and he is the greatest man I know… he is the epitome of what a human being should be, and he struggled for the last few years of his life with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Rideout said. “The last couple of years of his life he spent in care homes, so it was kind of a perfect fit for me.”

Along with her appreciation for long-term care homes, Rideout has a few other reasons why she feels the Pines was meant to be the home of her next mural. Her father’s favourite type of tree was pine, and she grew up making memories with her dad at a family trailer on Pine Street in Turkey Point. They also had a family property on Pinedale Avenue in Burlington, so it touched her heart to have the Pines receive the most votes and see those connections continue.

Mural artist Kimberly Rideout with her father, Robert Esselmont. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Rideout

Rideout and her kids visited her father often, so they know firsthand the work that happens day in and day out to support long-term care residents. She could never thank the people who cared for her father enough, she said, and that exceptional care inspired her oldest daughter Victoria to become a personal support worker (PSW).

“[Seeing] what a necessity a home like that is to the community, especially to the families who have loved ones that are there, there’s no words for how critical they are to our society,” Rideout said. “Her recognizing that was part of what’s drawn her to make that her choice for where she wants to head in life.”

Jennifer Ridgley, administrator at the Pines, was shocked and grateful to hear about Rideout’s intention to donate a mural. Learning about Rideout’s experience with her father as well as her daughter’s new career path made the news even more impactful.

“It’s overwhelming, just seeing how beautiful her artwork was and seeing the community making those votes towards the Pines,” Ridgley said. “When she mentioned about her daughter as well, looking to become a PSW, it hit home.”

Kimberly Rideout’s father with her oldest daughter, Victoria. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Rideout

The timing couldn’t be better either since the Pines is undergoing renovations on the main floor. The team at the Pines wanted to spruce things up now that some of the COVID restrictions have been lifted, so the mural will be another exciting addition to the project.

The location set aside for the mural is near a seating area in the central part of the facility, not far from an existing painting of a tree that displays the names of donors. Guests, residents and staff will be able to see the mural as they walk toward the living quarters, so Ridgley is excited to have another uplifting element to help bolster the homelike feel of the Pines.

“The restrictions have been difficult with the pandemic and we’ve continued to try and do everything we can to make it as fun and as warm as we can, and family members have seen that,” Ridgley said. “I think this will just help to add to that, to really focus on how do we look at the environment that’s around us and really try to do what we can to make sure that people really feel at home.”

After seeing Rideout’s artwork at Andy’s House, Ridgley and her staff can’t wait to see what she comes up with this time around. Nature and trees are often incorporated into their programming, so while that may factor into the design, the team at the Pines has given Rideout full artistic license. Rideout will be painting behind a curtain so that they can host a formal reveal at the Pines once the piece is complete, just as they did at Andy’s House last year

Monarch butterflies in the mural at Andy's House
Monarch butterflies in the mural at Andy’s House. Photo by Mandi Kenny of Vintage Lace Photography

The area will allow for a larger group of residents, families and staff to attend while still distancing, so it will be more of a celebration than would have been possible even just a few weeks ago, Ridgley said. They always try to celebrate the great things happening at the Pines and the reveal, which is expected to happen around mid-April, is no exception.

“We’re just so humbled that the community voted for us and it’s funny how Kim’s personal story kind of fits with our home,” Ridgley said. “We’re just so thankful as a home that we were chosen and that we’re going to see this beautiful mural that we’ll be able to really kind of centralize the home around and be able to enjoy for years to come.”

Rideout is also looking forward to the reveal, which she said is always the most fun part of transforming a space. She can’t wait to see people’s reactions, and she hopes to bring her family with her to enjoy the reveal alongside everyone at the Pines.

The Pines Long-Term Care Home in Bracebridge
The Pines Long-Term Care Home in Bracebridge. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Ridgley

Between COVID and cancer, the last few years have been difficult for Rideout and she hasn’t had the financial means to support charities and other organizations. She feels grateful and blessed to be able to use her art to give back while also raising awareness for important causes. She could’ve decided on a recipient on her own, but working with the community added even more value to the process.

“It makes me aware of all the different wonderful things that are going on out there that people may not realize,” Rideout said. “When you put it out there to the community, the community is overwhelmingly supportive of trying to let you know of the things that are out there that need support, so it’s a good way for everybody to share information with everybody else and make all of us heightened in that awareness.”

Though she’s been able to get back to work and has even launched a new business renting wedding decor while also creating other furniture and art pieces, Rideout hopes to continue filling Muskoka with murals and working with her neighbours along the way.

She has the ability to donate her art, but other people may be able to offer their money, time or expertise, she said. Everyone has something to offer, and she hopes her work will inspire others to give what they can.

“Everybody can make a difference even if it’s on the tiniest little level,” Rideout said. “The more we can spread that, the better off the world is.”

Mural Donated By Bracebridge Artist Revealed At Andy’s House


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