Day of Caring at Veith House

LS Jeremy Hodder touches up a doorway at Veith House on October 31.
Photo: MCpl Chris Ringius, FIS Halifax

RCN offers a helping hand to Veith House

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

Veith House is a neighbourhood hub that’s been providing services and opportunities for residents of North End Halifax for nearly 50 years, but even a staunch community supporter can sometimes use a helping hand.

And that’s exactly what Veith House received over October 30-31, as about 60 sailors from units across the Atlantic Fleet volunteered their time to help out at the non-profit in support of this year’s NDWCC campaign and the United Way Day of Caring. The group arrived early on the first morning ready to paint, clean a few rooms and help tidy up a messy basement inside the 100-year old building, but the project soon morphed into something more, said Veith House executive director Gail Gardiner.

“People were looking for extra tasks, we went out and bought more paint, and they’ve just been spotting things to fix and taking it upon themselves. Everyone has been working so hard and some of our rooms are looking like a million bucks.”

Floors and hallways were waxed and cleaned to warship standards, walls were patched and plastered, and tree stumps were pulled up outside. Crews even dug up and adjusted a thousand-pound cement block that was obstructing a fire exit behind the building.

The Navy effort on-site was led by MCpl Lisa Ouellette and PO2 Janna Slocum, both members of NRU Asterix, and the group was made up of members from a number of units that were able to spare a few bodies. The sailors quickly realized the extent of the help they could offer at the aging building, and accomplished an impressive amount in two short days, PO2 Slocum said.

“Sometimes you’re given taskings where, everyone still helps out, obviously, but it might require a little more encouragement or pushing to get the job done. That definitely wasn’t the case at Veith house; everyone’s been very enthusiastic.”

The idea came about when this year’s MARLANT NDWCC co-chairs, HMCS Harry DeWolf CO Cdr Corey Gleason and BAdm Officer Cdr Pat Perks, began searching for a way that members who didn’t feel capable of making a monetary donation could still contribute to the charity campaign. One of the goals of this year’s NDWCC is also to increase knowledge and understanding of the campaign’s impact, and the co-chairs felt the hands-on trip could help illustrate how much an organization or individual can benefit from community support. After speaking with partners at the United Way, Harry DeWolf COXN CPO1 Gerry Doucet and Supply Officer Lt(N) Ryan Arnold went for an initial visit at Veith House and identified it as a great place to offer some support and take part in the United Way’s Day of Caring initiative.

CPO1 Doucet said organizers canvassed the units of the fleet for available members, and ended up with a strong group representing Harry DeWolf, HMCS Fredericton, NRU Asterix, MOG 5 and other workplaces.

“It’s great to have the numbers, because it allowed us to take on bigger projects and spread that work around among the people we have,” said CPO1 Doucet.

Veith House offers a wide variety of services and programs to the local community, including daycare, counselling, coffee and meal programs, computer access, tax help and more, as well as serving as a hub for other groups as part of the North End Community Circle. Some RCN sailors have benefited from some of these programs in the past, and Gardiner said she was extremely appreciative of those who wanted to give back in return, as well as everyone else who pitched in over the two days.

“We’ve enjoyed having everyone here. They’ve been so happy to help and happy to be here and we’re grateful for it. It’s fantastic.”

– With files from Cdr Corey Gleason, CO HMCS Harry DeWolf