David Symons: From Board Chair to Santa Claus

David Symons rose from Three Links Board Chair to Three Links Santa Claus in a matter of a few short years. His rise to success, he says, was due to the phenomenal environment provided by Three Links. “It’s an incredible place,” says David. “The fact that some volunteers have been here since day one, they really make this place special.”

Such a special place, in fact, that David brought his daughters in regularly for Sunday visits while they were growing up. They got to know all of the residents by name and even brought their pet bird with them. He remembers one occasion where the bird landed on a resident’s head and the whole room burst out laughing. “It was the first time that resident had smiled in years,” he says.

David first came to Three Links because of his membership in the International Order of Oddfellows, the organization that founded Three Links. They told him that being a board member would take one day a month, at most. “They lied,” he laughs. His many projects, both time-consuming and gratifying, included getting Three Links nationally accredited, securing the supportive housing program for Three Links Manor residents, and purchasing the Three Links houses as accommodation for out-of-towners getting medical treatment.

He hopes that Three Links can continue to offer older people a place where the staff are caring and sensitive to the needs of the residents and that it doesn’t feel like an institution. “We’ve been asked to do more and more with less and less,” says David. “It’s a testament to the staff and volunteers that they’re able to provide valuable care.”

David has stepped down from chairing the board, but Three Links still has a place in his heart. He has been playing Santa Claus for Three Links residents every year now for 16 years. “There are some years I’ve sort of trudged in feeling tired,” he says, “yet I’ve always left with my spirit filled with amazing gifts for having shared this experience with the people here.”