Client Profiles


Bernie Hodgson has come a long way from her life as a young girl on the family farm in Hythe, Alberta. Moving to Grande Prairie and living in group homes with the Association over the years gave her the opportunity to be involved in an active social life as well as the chance to represent Grande Prairie in the bowling events at Special Olympics.

Bernie has chosen to leave the group homes and is currently sharing a home with Effie Berg, long time residential worker for the Association. She seems to have found her niche. Now in her late forties, Bernie says she is not handicapped anymore. She is content with the routine she shares with Effie and, for the most part, reluctant to join in with Association events. As Effie describes it, it’s as though she has “closed the book on that part of her life.”

Bernie shares many of her life experiences with her best friend and “housemother” Effie. They have lived together for four years and in that time have forged a strong bond based on many shared memories. Bernie accepts Effie’s family as her own, a familiarity that is okay with Bernie’s family. Effie says she is very fortunate to have Bernie. They get along well and Bernie is good company. Bernie sometimes calls Effie “Mom” or “Grandma.” Effie says “I answer to whatever.”

Effie does most of the talking, but not without a lot of help from Bernie, as she echoes Effie’s words with great enthusiasm. In her own words, Bernie speaks a lot about her grandmother Sophie and about her dad fishing at One Island Lake.

The stories they share are filled with adventure. Once the warm weather hits it doesn’t take long for Effie to ready the old motor home “that gets us from point A to point B” for a camping expedition. Bernie is always eager to join her and they set off down the highway, anticipating the next campfire and fishing opportunity. They reminisce about the many trips they have taken in their time together and they light up as they describe their plans for the upcoming summer.

Fishing at Swan Lake is a highlight for Bernie. She also loves the mountains. Effie says “they just do something to her.” Whatever it is, that something has a calming effect on Bernie. They often go out camping and Effie says that Bernie is a “happy camper.”

On a trip to Cadotte Lake one summer, Bernie and Effie spent an afternoon watching the fish jump for the dragonflies that fly just above the water. After one of the fish jumped right out of the water to catch a fly, Bernie laughed and said to Effie, “Did you see that one, it’s as big as a whale!” Bernie laughs at the memory.

Another of their favourite outings is a visit to “Uncle Buck’s” farm. Effie’s brother Buck owns the farm and Bernie loves to visit there. She looks forward to seeing the horses, cows and the two donkeys and is waiting for the mare, Sasha, to have a foal this year. They haul rocks in the old farm truck.

Bernie keeps an eye out for Effie and doesn’t hesitate to voice her opinion when she thinks the situation calls for her input. Effie was being teased by friends one time about how a handsome male friend would be such a great “catch.” Bernie was quick to offer Effie advice. “You know, Mom, I do need a stepdad but I don’t think it should be that man because I think he’s got a headache.”

Bernie has found a way to carve out a life that suits her and Effie is the first to applaud her newfound assertiveness. Still, it can be challenging to deal with at times. Bernie and Effie went shopping once for a dress for Bernie to wear to a wedding. Effie found a beautiful lilac dress for her to try. Bernie took a look at the selection and told Effie right away, “No thanks, I’m too young to get married.” Bernie ended up with a pair of pants and a jacket instead. Case closed. Bernie has indeed found her niche.

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