By Emily Fagan
For Patrick Fagan, helping seniors has always been a priority. Now, in his fourth year at Act Together Moving, he’s found a way to balance serving their needs with those of the White Rock community.
Act Together Moving is a locally based and family-owned small business that, according to Patrick, assists transitioning seniors and their families by “showing them what their options are for making their moves or making their individual move as stress-free and painless as possible,” while also offering them “cost-effective solutions and helping them set up their new home in a way that brings them a lot of happiness.” Anney Ardiel, Patrick’s sister, created Act Together Moving in 2011, after identifying a growing need in her community of Victoria. Two years later, Patrick joined as co-owner and opened a branch in White Rock. In his years working with the company, Patrick has made a conscious effort to give back to the White Rock community both on an individual and personal level.
“I’ve never felt uncomfortable in my client’s homes or in retirement communities, because I’ve been going into retirement communities since I was a child,” Patrick explained. His father had worked in senior housing in the White Rock area, so he and Anney had grown up with a unique awareness of issues facing seniors. In high school, Patrick was involved in a Pets and Friends program, where he and his spaniel, Brittany, would visit the hospital and senior’s homes. Patrick said, “That also made me feel more comfortable having chats with older people and getting a sense for what matters to them, what makes them laugh.”
Before Act Together Moving, Patrick lived all over the globe. Most notably, he spent several years living on Salt Spring island, where he developed a school-based violence prevention program that helped middle and high school students in twelve districts around British Columbia to, as he said, “gain self confidence and build their conflict resolution skills.” Now, these skills are implemented through the empowerment of transitioning seniors. Additionally, Patrick utilizes his personal experience moving when helping his clients downsize. “I’m always encouraging them to think [about] what they really love and what brings them joy out of the stuff they have,” he said. Patrick encourages them to reevaluate “stuff they’re holding on to out of obligation, simply because they’ve always hung on to these things, and try to help them loosen that grip on things that they upon reflection don’t really value.”
The decision to join the Act Together Moving team, Patrick recalled, was twofold. First of all, Patrick’s uncle, Father Jim Fagan of Star of the Sea Parish, was needing more help when progressed into his 90’s, so proximity was a big factor. “I also really wanted to get back into the business of helping people,” Patrick stated. “Having watched Anney grow the business for a couple of years, I realized that’s really what she was getting to do every single day [by helping] seniors and their families who were [going through] a really challenging period.”
Since starting the White Rock branch, Patrick has certainly been able to help both clients and members of the community. Through various partners in the area, such as Sources, Act Together Moving connects donations from downsizing clients with people in need. All donated books go to the Rotary Club of White Rock, and Act Together Moving also connects with local refugee groups who work with new Canadians arriving from Syria. Patrick stated, “We’ve got lots of families arriving that essentially have nothing, and they need all manner of household goods, from beds to couches, microwaves, and cutlery.” By making these connections, Patrick aims to not only give back, but also make his clients more comfortable letting go of excess items to help those in need. “Sometimes we’re dropping off big boxes of food at the food bank, other times we’re making sure a television makes it to a group home for autistic individuals,” said Patrick, referencing their work with Georgia House. “Sometimes it’s ladies clothing being dropped off at a transition home.”
Above all, Patrick confessed that his favorite part of his job comes towards the end of every big move. “I love when we’ve reached the phase of a move when we’re hanging artwork and putting up family pictures,” he said. It’s at this part of the move that “the home starts to warm up,” especially when clients begin to refer to their new place as ‘home’. As the client starts to feel more in control, there is an “overall sense of relief.”
Reflecting on the past four years, Patrick said that, “I’ve come to realize how strong my clients are. There’s a lot of courage and resiliency shown by my clients as they face both tough circumstances and a lot of pressure when it comes to making a move successful. As much as I’d like to think we get to do a lot for our clients, I know they also bring a lot to the table in making their move a successful one.”
Although managing moves keeps him busy six days of the week, Patrick still finds time to get involved locally. He was in the Rotary for 3 years, one of which he was Sergeant-at-Arms. Currently, he co-chairs the White Rock Senior Business Network, which he co-founded in 2014. This organization, which meets monthly, provides an opportunity for local people who serve seniors to connect, learn from each other, and discuss solutions to common problems. Ultimately, the goal of this network is to collaborate to promote the betterment of services for seniors.
In the next four years, Patrick plans to keep expanding Act Together Moving throughout the lower mainland, and filling his team with more talented individuals. “We’ve got some great opportunities for people who love the idea of working close to where they live, finding solutions for seniors who feel stuck but want to move, and love setting up seniors in vibrant communities where they get to have a great social life, wonderful meals, and a renewed sense of who they are,” Patrick said.
“I’d like to think everybody that we’ve helped [has] been touched by the fact that we really care about the transition that they’re going through. We completely understand that it’s really scary to move,” concluded Patrick. “I’m proud of each client that we’ve been able to help, because it’s a big deal when they call and ask us to take care of such a personal matter. I feel like the fact that they give us that trust makes me proud that we’ve brought together really talented people and effective systems to support the transition and moves that we take care of for seniors.”