The handsaw moves back and forth against the wood, powered by an elderly, but firm, grip.
The York Region Police, Grade 8 students from Sutton Public School, and residents and team members from Cedarvale Lodge Retirement and Care Community in Keswick came together over six weeks to build birdhouses. The students and seniors worked together on the project, teaming up to cut, sand, and assemble the houses.
“This was my first time woodworking, but I really enjoyed the sawing,” Grace, a resident at Cedarvale Lodge said.
She and Mary, who also lives at Cedarvale, are sitting together, waiting for the students to arrive for their last meeting. Today, the senior and student pairs will be hanging their finished birdhouses around Cedarvale Lodge, so that they can be enjoyed by everyone at the residence.
They both agree that the best part of the experience has been meeting the students, although they’ve picked-up some woodworking tips as well.
“The residents have really enjoyed the experience, and the kids have been great,” said Robert Miles, lifestyle consultant at Cedarvale Lodge. “I already have residents wanting to sign up for September.”
The idea for the program came from Ernie, a gentleman in the local community who often volunteers with the York Region Police. Ernie wanted the seniors and students to be able to come together “to build something they can be proud of,” he said.
On their last day together, everyone enjoyed a BBQ lunch at Cedarvale Lodge before collecting their bird houses and walking around the property in a group to find the perfect spot to hang them. The residents were sure to pay attention to where their birdhouse went so that they could sit by it later, with one lady requesting that it be hung so she could see it from her window.
“It's been, honestly, a great program,” Robert said. “The students and residents are really working together. They’re building a house together; one’s holding the wood, one’s cutting, so I think to me that is the greatest. I have residents smiling on the way home and telling me how great of a time they've had, and how great of a job the students are doing, and how they can't wait to go back next week.”