Written by Margaret De Laet
Our vehicles are loaded with plants, seeds, gloves, lawn mowers, rakes, trowels, wheelbarrows, paint, etc. everything needed to spruce up Acadia Place an apartment, owned by the Calgary Homeless Foundation. KAIROS Calgary, an ecumenical group of Calgary churches, is fundraising to help pay off the mortgage and provides volunteers for building projects. CUPS has a community developer on site (Susan) and KAIROS Calgary provides volunteer support.
Susan the Community Developer for CUPS was up early knocking on the residents’ doors, inviting them to join the KAIROS volunteers to clean up the yard and help plant the community garden. Food, of course, to be more specific, pizza, was an added incentive.
I, being part of the gardening detail, got to listen in on some of the ongoing conversations. Mary, in her teacher voice, said to the eager little helpers “Now the first thing a gardener has to do is put on a pair of gardening gloves.” Before long the big ornamental black pots were colourfully filled with geraniums, petunias, alyssum and others. When done the gardening gloves came off.
In another part of the garden little hands helped us plant an assortment of vegetables and herbs. It was a challenge and a learning experience for the novice gardeners. One young lady was in awe that the tiny brown seeds could actually grow into carrots. How amazing! Life is full of little miracles. Two of the residents were delighted to plant their own garden areas. I remember the one helping us last year. It was nice to see her back. The favourite thing to do was to finish each box with a row of flowers, like it was a badge of honour.
In another corner a patch of sunflowers were being thinned out, followed by the planting of beautiful large tomato plants. Combined with the herbs I can already smell the tomato sauce. The herbs are going to be an after school project in the fall.
On the other side of the building the cleaning and painting crew were busy raking, cutting out deadwood, getting rid of weeds, and garbage, and painting the parking curbs. The painting job is to be completed by one of the residents. The bright yellow was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dull parking lot.
Another ray of sunshine was when this little young lady ran over and sat with us two older volunteers. She had this beautiful shiny black hair, parted in a neat zig – zag way and tied up in two little pigtails. Once we established that she was only 5 years old, where she lived in the complex and which of those many little boys was her brother she regaled us with this story. “My mom says she picked me up at the zoo. I was all covered with hair. She shaved it off and underneath the hair she found this…. skin.” She giggled, we giggled. She took off to ride on her scooter, came back for another bite of her pizza and a drink of her pop and continued with more stories.
The pizza has arrived. The residents and some of the remaining volunteers are enjoying conversation, some laughs and a job well done. It was good to see a core of people once again working together as a team and looking forward to a tidy yard and playground, filled with flowers and vegetables. Thanks to Susan, Doreen and Paul. And thank you Margaret for capturing the spirit of the day in your words.