You Got The Most Powerful Thing In The World: Will Power – Youville Retirement Residence Gardening Project

By: Lawrence Lai

“Be the change you want to see in the World.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Whatever task I am handed to as a volunteer, I know that I can help make a difference to anyone and to everyone.  I grew up through the Scouting Program and have participated in various community service events over the years. Currently, I am a Venturer Advisor for 138th East Vancouver Scout Group and a Core Team member of 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group. I also have a full-time job as an Animator and play Ultimate in my spare time. Despite my busy schedule, I am heavily involved in servicing the community and I enjoy every single minute of it. This is one of the many stories and my first blog that I would like to share with you.

Last year, 26 of our Rovers have contributed in painting the main lounge area at Youville Residence. They were extremely satisfied with our efforts and graciously offered another volunteering opportunity to renovate the garden and provide a comfortable outdoor environment for the seniors at the residence.

On a hot, blazing 28 °C day of July 27th, 11 Rovers, including myself, have decided to spend our Sunday afternoon to help furnish the Youville Residence’s garden for the residence’s “daily dose” of nature.

When we first walked in into the residence, we were happily greeted by Brandon, a Rehabilitation Assistant at Youville. He introduced our tasks and led us on a tour around the garden. As we stroll through the walkway that circled around the garden, we passed by a special fenced area that was designed for Dementia patients. This “Secret Garden” forbid patients to pass the other open area garden, which was not too heavily fortified but can still do the trick of keeping the residence from escaping out. There were three projects to work on during our four hour period: planting flowers inside the “Secret Garden”, constructing a shed for storage and removing the pond for a new fountain. All three of these projects require intense weed removal and we all got started right away. Our group was split up into teams to be more efficient with our time. I took on the task of weed removal and flower planting with our new Rovers, Charles Mak and Sandra Lee. I also circulated once in a while to take pictures to document our contribution.

As we were removing the vines that wrapped around the tree, we had Mary, a senior volunteer at Youville Residence, who tried to reach up top to grab some more vines. Suddenly, she fell and scrapped her arm and knee. Charles, Sandra and I quickly dropped what we were doing to assess her injury. She told me she was fine and can continue with what she was doing. After I treated her wounds, she went straight back to work without any hesitation or thought of resting. I have not seen someone so dedicated to service that she put aside her own safety to complete tough, rigorous tasks. I was worried for her, yet, at the same time, her devotion motivated me to work a lot harder alongside with her on more risky tasks.

Within two hours, majority of the weeds were removed and we started to work on planting flowers along the pathway. It instantly brought some life to the previous existing dead plants that were just wasting space in the garden.After we finished our part, we went to the other two teams to see what they need help in.

After a while, we had a chance to enjoy a tasty pizza lunch and conversed a bit with the other volunteers at the event. There were volunteers affiliated with Girl Guides and have decided to help out regularly with this retirement residence. It’s always great to know that we were able to combine our efforts with likeminded organizations to help service the community.

For the last hour, we went back outside to finish up the project with our Rovers and event volunteers. I took on the task of reorganizing and planting new flowers that surrounded the main garden area. I was not afraid to ask if other volunteers needed help and took initiative to lend them an extra hand.

Even though the event was supposed to end at 3pm, we decided to stay a little longer to finish up the remaining projects and clean up. Once finished, the garden looks amazing! Brandon gifted all the volunteers eco-friendly notepads and reusable totes for our hard work and dedication in refurnishing the entire garden.


From Left to Right: Lawrence Lai, Charles Mak, Sandra Lee, Daniel Liao, Darren Shum, Mostafa Nejati, Wynee Leung, Edna Cheng, Guilherme Bertelli

At the end of the day, it is another job well done and was a successful day of contribution to the community. We hope to work with Youville again to really make a difference and better connect with the seniors at the residence. After going to various volunteering events as a Rover scout, I think this is one of my favorite volunteering experiences and I’m always craving to do a lot more of these local service projects.

Check out the photos that we took during our time there. 

Want to find out more about Youville Residence?


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