Our story began in 2021. A Neighbourhood Small Grant helped our IngleHay community to transform a piece of neglected parkland into a beautiful green space enjoyed by many who pass by and as a gathering place for our community. We received another grant in the spring of 2022, which helped deepen the community connection and get people better prepared for emergency situations such as earthquakes, fires and floods (with a presentation by North Shore Emergency Management). We are very appreciative that another Neighbourhood Small Grant was awarded to us in the winter of 2022.
The summer of 2022 was hot and dry. Our volunteers came out every morning and evening to draw water from the nearby drainage ditch in order to water the plants in our community Green. It was a great example of hard work, dedication and love for the community. The outstanding efforts of our volunteers were not only appreciated by the community but also by the plants, which responded with a great display of colour for everyone to enjoy.
We know it’s important to recognize volunteers and not to take them and their hard work for granted. We also know that it’s important to continue our community get-togethers over a simple meal to strengthen our connections with each other. Furthermore, we know it’s important to replace some of our volunteers’ much-used garden tools, such as wheelbarrows (we damaged two wheelbarrows). Thankfully, Neighbourhood Small Grant recognized the importance of all this and helped us.
In late November 2022, we used some of the grant and purchased gift cards from The Modern Pantry Ambleside (which helped to support a new local small business). We delivered these gift cards along with hand make thank you cards to 10 of our most committed volunteers. Well, the volunteers were surprised and really appreciated the gesture. Every one of them made positive comments, such as one who said, “Wow, you’ve made me committed to a lifetime of watering,” and others said, “This wasn’t necessary, but it’s really nice to be recognized”.
On March 5, 2023, we held our first indoor community get-together at St. Anthony’s Church. The grant money enabled us to purchase the main meal while neighbours brought desserts for all of us to share. We had over 20 people attending. One of the attendees had recently lost her husband. She said she should have joined us a long time ago while her husband was still alive, as this is a great way to get to know your neighbours. This gathering made her feel that she is not alone in the community, and she now knows many of her neighbours and is able to greet them by name and have a small chat rather than just a simple hello. She and her husband had lived in their home for over 50 years. The reason they didn’t join us before was because he felt this might be some sort of sales scam. When he was alive, they would regularly relax on the bench at the Green and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity.
One neighbour said that this getting together has helped a group of neighbours become a real community. Another neighbour commented the Green had given her a sense of accomplishment and pride, and many agreed. Many positive comments were exchanged. One thing we learned is that a few of our neighbours are still reluctant to get together at an indoor event, so we agreed that in the future, we’ll stick with having our get-together outdoors at the Green.
After the purchase of the gift cards and food, we had a little money left, and together with some small donations, we were able to purchase a community wheelbarrow.
The grants we have received from Neighbourhood Small Grant have helped us create a beautiful green space for many to enjoy. Most importantly, a place for many plants to have a second home since almost all of them were transplanted from homes in the area that were to be demolished. In addition, volunteers who come out to water enjoy the exercise and fresh air. The community gatherings over a simple meal help people overcome loneliness, make new friends and look out for each other such as picking up mail when someone is away.
Looking back, without the initial and subsequent grants, IngleHay Green and our community would not be where we are today. Many thanks to Neighbourhood Small Grant and West Vancouver Foundation.