October 15, 2009
Members of the Georgian Lakelands Chapter are once again busily preparing to volunteer their expertise and energy to help Gilda’s Club in Barrie. After last year’s success, the club is taking on even a larger project this year.

Gilda’s Club provides networking and support groups, workshops, offerings for children, teens and adults, educational seminars and social activities for people fighting a battle with cancer. It is a place where people of all ages gather to learn more about cancer, to share their experiences with others and, true to its namesake Gilda Radner, to find opportunities to laugh.   

The chapter first became involved with Gilda’s Club as part of a project to build a house last fall. Proceeds raised from the sale of the house, that was started and completed by volunteers in just a few days and then auctioned off, went into helping to fund the main project, a drop-in centre at Gilda’s Club of Barrie. Once it is finished, the drop-in centre will be run by a group of volunteers, along with health care professionals.

 “We, as a chapter, chose this project because Gilda’s Club Barrie will serve all of Simcoe County, Parry Sound-Muskoka, Grey Bruce and Dufferin Counties,” says chapter past-president Nick Solty. “Even though this project is in the City of Barrie, it will benefit a large portion of the Georgian Lakelands Chapter. We are always trying to include as many different areas of our chapter, but because our chapter is geographically the largest in the province, it’s not easy.”

This is by far the largest project the Georgian Lakelands Chapter has ever committed itself to. The landscape portion of the project has been divided into two phases. Phase one is slated to go in October of this year. It is valued at $75,000, while phase two is valued at $46,000. “As you can see, it is a large endeavour. We are looking for support from chapter members, suppliers and of course, home office,” said Solty.

The Chapter organizers are looking for support in various forms, such as plant material, boulders, river rock, concrete pavers and precast concrete retaining wall material. “We are looking for landscape crews to install the various aspects of the project. As well, we will need some cash to purchase materials that are not donated, as well as paying for some labour that we can’t solicit,” says chapter president Michael LaPorte. The chapter also needs full crews to work on various portions of the landscape, as “it is not easy to have non-professionals (students and volunteers) install retaining walls, pavers and large plant material.”

Safety is on the top of the list for the volunteers. “We will be working with equipment, such as backhoes, skid steer loaders and stone saws. We would love to have the use of these donated, as well,” said LaPorte. Plans call for the volunteer workers to begin in late October.

Materials needed

Materials needed by the chapter for phase one, include: 24 Colorado spruce (200 cm), six white spruce (200 cm), five Fat Albert spruce (125 cm), one serviceberry (50 mm), four ginkgo (70 mm), six Malus Dolgo (50 mm), six pin oak (75 mm), three Baby Blue Eyes spruce (100 cm), one Skyline locust (75 mm), three clipped Japanese yew (10 gal.), 13 silverleaf dogwood (2 gal.), 14 Glowing Embers hydrangea (2 gal.), 10 cutleaf stephanandra (2 gal.), 17 Miss Kim lilac, (3 gal.), 51 Karl Foerster grass (1 gal.), 5 nest spruce (3 gal.), 13 pinkspire summersweet (2 gal.), 21 golden mockorange (2 gal.), 560 sq. ft. of  unit pavers, 140 face ft. of pre-cast retaining wall, 10 cubic yds. river rock, 15 limestone boulders, 20 cubic yds. mulch, 100 ft. of chain-link fencing. Also needed are a backhoe and skid steer, and donated labour to install trees, shrubs, mulch, river stone, unit pavers and retaining wall.

To volunteer, donate, or find out more information, contact Nick Solty, call 705-458-9111, or Mark Goodman at 705-730-8011.

Caption: A cheerful mix of daffodils will bloom next spring at Gilda’s Club in Barrie. Thanks to a new Green for Life initiative, each LO chapter will receive a customized mix of white, orange and yellow Narcissus to plant in a community project. Pictured above, Denis Flanagan, LO director of public relations (centre) presents Georgian Lakelands past president Nick Solty and chapter treasurer Sheila Allin with a case of the Green For Life bulb mix.