CFB Halifax volunteers support United Way Day of Caring in East Preston
By Sydney MacLeod,
CFB Halifax PA
Each year, United Way Halifax offers its Day of Caring program for local corporate partners. Through this program, United Way Halifax matches teams of volunteers with hands-on projects in their communities. Countless hours go into planning Day of Caring initiatives, which attract volunteers from throughout the Halifax region, many who return year after year. These initiatives positively impact many local organizations/individuals and those who benefit from their programs and services while promoting teamwork and camaraderie within our communities.
In August 2020, when PO1 Lynn Cassidy heard about the opportunity for CFB Halifax to participate in a United Way Day of Caring, she immediately volunteered. “The United Way Day of Caring is so important to me,” she explains. “I like to help as much as I can, and this program allows me to proudly wear my uniform and help my community.”
A participant in numerous Days of Caring over the years, PO1 Cassidy – currently the Ceremonial Petty Officer at CFB Halifax – was excited to be appointed team leader for a Day of Caring opportunity in East Preston, a tightknit Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) community located east of Dartmouth. This project, she was told, would involve building a greenhouse at the East Preston Day Care and Family Resource Centre for use by the Centre’s staff, children and local community members.
The Centre’s greenhouse project is one of several projects developed in recent years by the “Community Intergenerational Green House and Garden Project Committee,” a group of members representing both the East Preston Day Care and Family Resource Centre and the neighbouring community’s North Preston Community Centre. This committee applied for – and was successfully awarded – a grant in full to fund all costs related to building the greenhouse, a big win for the communities of East and North Preston. With this funding finalized and approved, they could finally start the search for volunteers to help build the greenhouse structure.
Excited to get involved and give back, PO1 Cassidy quickly started preparations for the greenhouse build. After soliciting for volunteers within the CFB Halifax community, 15 members from the Base ceremonial team and Base Logistics answered the call to action. Once all the permits were approved and materials were delivered, the team headed out to East Preston with trucks full of tools, eager to get started.
On the first day of the build, it rained so hard that the team of volunteers could barely see a foot in front of them; but that didn’t stop anyone. Each volunteer stepped up to the occasion, prepared to work through the uncooperative weather conditions without complaint. And through this teamwork and dedication, they were able to set up the base of the greenhouse and secure the frame of the structure.
“I’m extremely grateful to have had the support of colleagues who are so motivated to help regardless of the circumstances,” explains PO1 Cassidy, speaking of the combined efforts of her team.
In the end, it took the team a total of five days to complete the greenhouse. And while there were many challenges presented along the way, the volunteers were thankful for the support from the daycare’s project liaisons, Janet Grant and Trina Brooks, who were helpful throughout the process. Likewise, Grant, Brooks and the entire East Preston Day Care and Family Resource Centre team were thrilled for the support from members of the Canadian Armed Forces
“This project means that eventually the daycare will have food security and be self-sustainable,” explains Grant, a staff support and after school program coordinator at the daycare.
Looking to get the most use out of the greenhouse as possible, daycare staff are planning to start growing early within the greenhouse, then transplant what was grown into outdoor gardens. To maximize the harvest and optimize the space being used, Grant explains that the produce grown will be used “to expand into surrounding communities.” In addition, many of the seedlings will be given to residents so they can grow their own veggies at home.
“I am so excited that the children will have a huge part in providing nutritional food to their own homes and community,” explains PO1 Cassidy. “They will help plant, weed, and harvest everything, alongside the wonderful teachers at the daycare.”
It appears the children who attend the programs are equally excited, with one having expressed that they “are very excited to get their hands into the soil and produce some food.”
In March 2021, PO1 Cassidy and her team of volunteers will return to the daycare to deliver the project’s final touches, which will include attaching the plastic covering and installing shelves and tables.
PO1 Cassidy recognizes that United Way Day of Caring initiatives are unique and rewarding opportunities for employees to come together and work on meaningful projects in our local communities. “I encourage everyone to help others, nothing is too small to make a difference.”
The East Preston Day Care and Family Resource Centre is a non-profit organization that has been a fixture in the community of East Preston for over 40 years. Offering nurturing care and educational opportunities to children aged 3 months to 10 years, the fully licensed Day Care includes access to a large, fenced outdoor play area with equipment; an indoor gym; library; and appropriate toys and learning aids for each age group. Located in the same facility, the East Preston Family Resource Centre provides programming for all ages, from pre/post natal classes; free car safety checks; and school readiness programs to youth groups; parenting; and budgeting workshops. To learn more about the East Preston Day Care and Family Resource Centre, visit: https://www.eastprestondaycare.ca/
For more information on United Way Halifax’s Day of Caring program, visit: https://bit.ly/3mngAJj