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Finding Meaning in Simple Acts

clean up Lynne Henwood.jpg

By: Lynne Henwood, senior instructor design/training specialist, YVRRO, Richmond, BC
 
When the call went out asking for teams for community clean-up day, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for our western HR team to do something positive together, away from the office.

We selected Garry Point Park, a popular waterfront park nearby in the historical fishing village community of Steveston. The locale is also known for its suitability as a backdrop for filming various movies and television shows, the most recent being “Once Upon a Time,” a series based on fairy tales. (Sadly, no stars were spotted during the visit to the park, and no magic wands were waved to take care of the clean-up for us.)

We descended on the park and shoreline in small teams. The usual suspects were found amongst the rocks and sand: discarded paper and cardboard, cigarette butts, broken bottles and cans left behind by late-night revelers. Curious items that washed ashore from distant boats or beaches – like bits of buoys and broken articles from vessels – conjured up fables of their own.

Above, the busy humming of a kite could be heard as it dipped and swayed in the brisk seaside air as joggers, cyclists, dog-walkers, tourists and families made their way at their own pace along the park pathway below. Some paused to comment or notice our efforts to clean up; others were caught up in their own reasons for being there.

As I made my way west, I came upon a bouquet of roses placed at the Fisherman’s Memorial, a tribute to those lost at sea. The shock of bright red stood out against the stone monument and grayness of the cloudy day – a symbol of a modern-day legend of love and loss. It was a gesture that held many messages, among them that this was a very personal and important place.

Soon, it would be time to rendezvous with the larger group to compare our strange loot and assess our efforts. As I walked back toward the park entrance, a woman walking her dog approached. She smiled when she looked at my FedEx Cares T-shirt and surveyed the other HR volunteers as they began to gather. “My grand-daughter comes by here every now and again with her Brownie troop to clean up. It’s really nice to see that other people care about this park too,” she said.

So there you have it. Where the story ends is also where it begins. What started out as a simple quest to do a little clean-up and team building grew to a larger tale of community building.

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