In the midst of her pain and grief, it was a much-needed piece of sanctuary.
“Very peaceful,” offers Julie Donaldson.
Last May, Donaldson’s husband Don passed away after a long and courageous fight with cancer. Don spent his final five weeks at the Salvation Army Agapé Hospice, where he, Julie and their two daughters would sit together in the hospice’s outdoor garden as spring arrived with a riot of colour.
“It was a good place to sit with your thoughts and your family,” says Julie. “I’d like to think that Don enjoyed it a bit, too.”
In September, Julie (PLA ’99), who works in mineral land administration with Calgary’s Crew Energy, returned to Agapé Hospice—this time with fellow volunteers from the SAITennial Squad, to winterize the garden, trim hedges, clear flowerbeds and rake leaves.
The experience has inspired Julie to continue her relationship with the facility, by taking on more volunteer gardening with Agapé Hospice next spring.
It’s one example of the profound ripple effect that SAIT’s centennial celebrations are having on the Calgary-and-area community. As part of the 100 Projects Project, SAIT is mobilizing alumni, students, employees and partners to deliver 100 charitable projects by the spring of 2017 for 100 years of SAIT.
“These are organic initiatives, bringing people together to do good for others,” says Jodi Currie, SAIT’s Centennial Volunteer Coordinator.
And just as Julie Donaldson is keen to stay involved with Agapé Hospice, Ashley Livingston has been energized into further action by her own 100 Projects Project volunteer experience earlier this month—an evening of meal preparation for Made by Momma.
A local non-profit organization and registered charity 100% driven by volunteers, Made by Momma provides wholesome nourishment and nurturing care for mothers and young children facing adversity and crisis.
“I was raised by a single mom, and I understand firsthand that there are women out there who don’t have a massive support network when life gets really challenging,” says Livingston, who made chili, soup, and quinoa turkey meatballs in the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen with about a dozen others from the SAITennial Squad.
“I immediately connected to that organization,” she adds. “I’ve applied to be a board member at Made by Momma—and I also applied for the position of group kitchen coordinator!”
There are two ways to get involved with the 100 Projects Project—pitch in with a project of your own, or join a SAIT-led project. Under Currie’s direction, those SAIT-led initiatives over the next several months include volunteer opportunities with:
- The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre Society;
- Inn from the Cold;
- Brown Bagging 4 Calgary’s Kids; and
- Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta.
“I’m not a SAIT graduate,” says Livingston, “but I can see how great an organization SAIT is, and I can’t wait to do more volunteering with SAIT.”
Written by Todd Kimberley