The goal of the Hummingbird Hearts Project was to touch and uplift the hearts of seniors living in Vancouver’s West End by creating and surprising them with “Hummingbird Heart Gifts.” These were gift bags that contained small items which symbolized the themes of Love, Joy and Inspiration.

Identification of recipients and distribution of the Hummingbird Heart Gift bags was accomplished by partnering with the wonderful team at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

Like the hummingbird, each Hummingbird Heart Gift bag was unique. Gift items were selected for their meaning rather than monetary value. While some gifts were purchased, a large number were donated: regifted or handmade by residents, friends, volunteers, and my partner, who enthusiastically supported the project. The West End’s Crafty Neighbours also came on board, generously donating a variety of their attractive handknit items – for every gift bag!

The project encouraged creativity, and many of the Hummingbird Heart Gift bags’ contents were indeed a reflection of the creative talent in our community. For example, a vision-impaired West End resident made inspirational Braille bracelets for each gift bag, emotionally telling me that her participation in the project gave her life a sense of purpose. Other contributors – some outside the West End – donated stunning original photography and artwork, as well as cards with their own designs and inspirational sayings.

All gift bags were topped off with a ribbon-tied scroll with the message, “You’ve been touched by a Hummingbird Heart,” and included a brief explanation of the initiative. In addition, a card with a handwritten message from a project volunteer was included, briefly explaining how the gifted items related to the themes of Love, Joy and Inspiration.

The Hummingbird Hearts Project also included two small collaborative events:

1. A creativity-sharing gift bag compilation event + lunch at my home to attractively compile 25 unique gift bags. Presentation was everything! One volunteer was a born organizer and keenly took the lead upon her arrival!
(3 volunteers)

2. A card-writing event at my home for the purpose of handwriting 25 personalized cards.
(2 volunteers)

(Note: A third event, that involved a gift donation table outside our West End residential building to engage residents, did not receive approval from Council. So, I resorted to Plan B, and put up a poster in our building’s laundry room, promoting the project and requesting any gift donations be dropped off outside my suite. There were some fabulous donations!)

Project Outcomes:

Gift donations vastly exceeded expectations! While 27 gifts were purchased, 133 gifts were donated, for a total of 160 gifts. This was an average of 7 gifts per Hummingbird Heart Gift bag – more than doubling the original goal of 3 gifts per bag!

In addition to the gifts noted above, 104 smaller “add-on” items were received through donations and distributed in the gift bags, including kindness bracelets, handmade bookmarks, attractive cards with envelopes, and small pop-up cards with positive messages.

At the end of September 2021, twenty-five Hummingbird Heart Gift Bags + 25 cards were handed off to the Gordon Neighbourhood House team, and subsequently distributed by the team from October through to Christmas. The focus was on recipients who could benefit the most from a little Love, Joy and Inspiration, including seniors in the community facing challenging health issues. Hummingbird Heart Gift bags were also distributed to some of the Gordon Neighbourhood House volunteers – many seniors themselves – in recognition of the Love, Joy and Inspiration they spread in our community every day.

A HUGE thank you to the team at Gordon Neighbourhood House, The Vancouver Foundation, the Neighbourhood Small Grants Committee, all the generous contributors and to amazing volunteers Wilma, Cath, Nancy, Grete and Lance for making this project possible.

And my heartfelt gratitude to coach Margo Metcalfe for fanning the flame of inspiration. This project wouldn’t have happened without you, Margo.
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