In addition to her role as a health care aide at Youville Home, Nicole Beaupre has logged numerous volunteer hours at the site over the last five years. She tends to the gardens almost daily, even on days she’s not scheduled to work. Nicole believes that plants and outdoor spaces are key to residents’ well-being.
“I want to make sure nature comes to our residents because many cannot go into nature themselves,” Nicole explains. “My reward is when someone knocks on the window or waves at me while I’m working outside.”
And while Nicole has also been rewarded with many words of thanks and appreciation from Youville Home staff and residents over the years, she recently received a handcrafted gift from a resident for the first time.
Doug Worley, a resident at Youville Home with multiple sclerosis (MS), spent around 12 hours over several days building a red cedar garden cart adorned with Nicole’s name. The 82-year-old made the cart in his workshop at the site, stocked with his own tools.
“It really touched me, and I was frozen in time because no one has given me something like that before,” Nicole says. “He said, ‘Nicole, I see everything you do around this place. You’re there for everyone all the time, and I’ve heard so much about you.’”
A lifelong woodworker from Montreal, Doug had a long career in construction, installing stores in malls from Halifax to Alberta before he came to live at Youville Home. He found a kindred spirit in Nicole, who is also a woodworker and builds wooden ornaments and other handcrafted items for Youville Home and its residents.
“I made the cart for Nicole because she deserves it,” Doug says. “Nobody really knows Nicole until they see the work she does. She goes above and beyond, and she’s always on the go. For me, it was a privilege to build the cart for her.”
Nicole uses her precious cart to transport plants and flowers around the site and even as a place to store colourful flowers on a resident unit to add colour to the living space.
“I love working with Mother Nature. This is where I go to church,” Nicole says. “We feed nature, and nature feeds our souls.”
Determined to continue giving back through his woodworking skills, Doug’s next project will involve building a series of birdhouses for Youville Home residents to decorate during their painting classes.