Jennifer Garrett, director or finance and operations of Power To Be, learns more about the wooden roundhouse, from Paul Latour, executive director for HeroWork. Power To Be helps individuals with various disabilities or barriers to access nature, while HeroWork helps other charities thrive by renewing and refreshing their physical infrastructure through the “art of modern-day barn raising.”

UPDATED: HeroWork set to transform Prospect Lake site

Volunteers create new home for Power To Be at former Prospect Lake Golf Course

Tools are banging away in the background as Jennifer Garrett looks at the bigger picture.

“This site is a game changer for us,” she says.

It is Sunday morning and Garrett stands on a large wooden platform with wheelchair access in the middle of a clearing surrounded by trees. Some distance away, Prospect Lake sparkles in the bright morning sun. So do the pearls of sweat that run down the brows and biceps of the volunteers that swarm around Garrett.

Wearing dark T-shirts bearing the inscription HeroWork, some pound holes into the ground. Others help fasten the beams of a wooden roundhouse. Others align planks.But if their respective tasks vary, each and every one of them is making nature more accessible for individuals living with various disabilities or barriers.

As director of finance and operation of Power To Be, Garrett helps such individuals. “Something magical happens when people are outside,” says Garrett. “There is a real deep connection to self, connection to the place where you are, connection with others. That is the thing we hear the most. There is a really strong sense of belonging that happens.”

But this magic does not happen on its own. It requires special facilities. So the organization has partnered with HeroWork to transform the former Prospect Lake Golf Course into an inclusive program hub that will serve as its home for their outdoor programs, facilitating their end-goal of inspiring youth and families in need of support to discover their limitless abilities through nature-based programs. HeroWork helps other charities thrive by renewing and refreshing their physical infrastructure through the “art of modern-day barn raising.”

“Power To Be is coming up on its 20th year and we have been able to serve the community really well,” says Garrett. “But we had really reached our limit of our ability to serve and our waiting list is still very, very long.”

Garrett said the transformation of the site will benefit at least 800 individuals of different abilities and ages.

“Our youngest participant last year was seven and our oldest was in their 70s. So it is a big range,” she said. “That said, youth and young adults is where the bulk of our services are.”

As for their abilities, they vary, said Garrett. “We work with people with autism, youth that are struggling in school, people with physical or cognitive disabilities. And we are doing a lot more work in and around supporting people with mental health.”

Work on the project began on July 6 and will continue through July 16. While HeroWork has professional staff, it also looks for volunteers, especially for this coming weekend of July 15 -16.

Those willing to pitch in can sign up at HeroWork.com/volunteer. Volunteers often find that spending time doing HeroWork benefits them as much as the charity, feeling the camaraderie of being part of a team working to help others and seeing the lasting effects their work has brought to the community.

Lew Williams has been involved in every project as the head electrician, donating countless hours. He came aboard after seeing a story about HeroWork and learning that his trade was desperately needed.

“You know, you are thanked a lot on a HeroWork site, from Paul Latour and his team to other volunteers to the charity we are refurbishing, and that does make you feel good but really the payback comes in the joy you feel inside to be able to help. And help in the significant, visible way of a HeroWork project,” Williams said.

HeroWork board member, interior designer, and tireless volunteer Cheryl Rowley was inspired by a young family on the roadside holding a sign indicating they were homeless. She was a successful California executive at the time and it filled her with a desire to do more than writing a cheque, so she decided at that moment to find a way to effect change on a larger scale. Upon retiring to Victoria, she found that opportunity in HeroWork.

“In my career, I was given the opportunity to help refurbish and repurpose derelict buildings,” recalls Rowley, “and I saw how that change could become a catalyst for change through the entire neighbourhood. I love helping with HeroWork projects because they breathe new life into communities; they create meaningful spaces that change outcomes.”

The volunteers’ efforts will be on display during an open house July 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Prospect Lake site.

Following the completion of the Prospect Lake project, HeroWork will move on to a multi-level expansion of local shelter Anawim House. Following the renovation – expected to take place in September or October – the shelter will enjoy a new private counselling office, bike-repair shop, second-floor workstations with computer access, and many other upgrades.

HeroWork’s projects are only made possible by large volunteer turnout. By allowing volunteers to participate directly in renovations, HeroWork offers people from all backgrounds the unique opportunity to see their individual contribution transformed into what has been coined modern-day barn raising, or radical renovation.

To volunteer to help with these projects and learn more about the HeroWork mission, visit www.HeroWork.com. For those who are unable to volunteer but would like to help, donations are a great way to help projects like these become reality.

 

A group of volunteers help out on a project for HeroWork. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

Colwood tree bylaw causing problems

Arborist says bylaw unreasonable, puts homeowners at risk

UPDATED: Pellets shot at window of B.C. Transit bus

Bus was travelling near Craigflower and Admirals roads Wednesday morning when window was hit

Find out what the future holds for the West Shore

Chamber of commerce hosts annual Vision West Shore in February

Smell of pot plants sparks social media debate

A noticeable smell on Sooke Road has caught the attention of residents

Horgan indicates Highway 14 improvements coming soon

Premier says looming announcement part of much more coming for south coast connector

Victoria’s Our Place in desperate need of clothing donations

Downtown service provider feeling pinch from less frequent community clothing drives

Food industry failing at voluntary sodium reduction: Health Canada

Health Canada report shows the food industry made no meaningful progress in curtailing salt levels

All the colours of the rainbow, in a cloud

Rare phenomenon spotted at Mount Washington

LIVE: Solitary confinement in Canadian prisons unconstitutional: B.C. Supreme Court

Associations argued that solitary confinement was inhuman

1 in 4 B.C. consumers unable to pay bills, debt repayment: poll

Since interest rates first rose in July, poll suggests households across B.C. have had to tighten budget

SOGI rally disrupts school board meeting, but business carries on

Chilliwack school board makes statement in support of B.C.-wide gender identity teaching resource

B.C. husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

Couple presented with Vital Link Awards for quick use of CPR

154 remote B.C. communities to get high-speed internet

Government funding to bring subsea fiber optic cable to connect people on the coast

Kelowna West byelection called for Feb. 14

Four candidate race to replace departed former B.C. premier Christy Clark

Most Read