Making an impact on more than the farm
Sunlight streamed through the windows of the 1940s barn as seven students listened to tales of how lives can so easily fall apart.
Seven Grade 11 students from Stelly’s secondary school’s global perspectives class heard about how, in an instant, a woman’s life deteriorated to drug use and homelessness when she lost her entire family in a car crash.
The students came to Woodwynn Farms on Tuesday, May 8 to experience farming and learn more about homelessness. It was the first day of a volunteering program that will last until the end of this school year and likely into the next.
“Most of us took the global perspectives class because we wanted to make a difference,” said Lexy Young.
The students will work with the several tonnes of hay the farm sells, as well as helping repair the 70-year-old barns on the property so Woodwynn can convert them into other uses, such as a market.
On the farm, they’ll work with Ed, a formerly homeless man who has been at Woodwynn since the winter. (Ed is a pseudonym to protect the man’s identity.) And with plans to erect a tent city on the property to house more people from the streets, the students might hear more stories about homelessness first hand.
“Woodwynn is such a good fit for our program,” said global perspectives teacher Elena Beristain. “The students who come through our program are very motivated and more in tune with the world.”
Recently, the global perspectives class bought land in Nepal and Grade 12 students went there to build a shelter for women who were victims of abuse or other violations. The Grade 11 students will likely visit the shelter next year.
“It’s so great that right in our community we have a great project that is so similar [to the one in Nepal],” Beristain said.
In addition to volunteering, the global perspectives program awarded Woodwynn’s Creating Homefulness Society with a $1,000 grant. The Grade 12 students applied for a Vital Youth grant through the Victoria Foundation, which gave the class $2,500 to put back into the community. They also gave $1,000 the Victoria Riding Association for the Disabled, located in Central Saanich, and $500 to the Peninsula Streams Society.
“It gives [the students] some empowerment to choose where changes happen in their community,” Beristain said.
The Grade 11 students will likely return to the farm every Tuesday to help out and learn about farming and homelessness in the same setting.