Engineering Day of Caring builds community one brick at a time

How can a garden swing and a lawn bowling court change a life?

Many seniors in the Alberta Capital Region struggle with social isolation. They feel like they don’t belong, or can’t participate in society in the way they used to because of mobility challenges, having to move away from their community or because of cultural differences.

Since 1969, Operation Friendship Seniors Society (OFSS) has been working with Edmonton’s seniors to create a community and improve the quality of life for seniors in the inner city. At their McCauley Lodge, OFSS provides housing for 58 low-income seniors, but desperately needed some upgrades and beautification to the shared yard space.

That’s where the Engineering Day of Caring (EDOC) comes in.

Every year, engineering firms from across the Alberta Capital Region come together for a whirlwind day of caring, community building and transformation. Working in partnership with United Way, the Engineering Day of Caring brought together 16 firms to challenge each other to strengthen communities across the Alberta Capital Region, through donation, advocacy and sheer effort.

“Your work here is substantial and important and a real example of how community comes together to tackle some of the biggest issues that we’re facing. It can’t be one organization, one individual, one level of government that solves the challenges that we’re facing like the unignorable issue of poverty. It’s going to take all of us, working together,” said United Way CEO Rob Yager during the kickoff ceremonies for EDOC.

The 70 volunteers transformed the backyard space at the McCauley Lodge, making it more accessible and a beautiful place to connect with friends in the garden swing or over a game of lawn bowling.

Improvements include:

  • Construction of an outdoor deck
  • Installation of a gazebo, exterior lighting, garden swing and additional seating
  • Construction of an outdoor games area with artificial turf
  • Installation and widening sidewalks to ease mobility in the courtyard
  • Construction of raised garden beds and flower beds to promote outdoor gardening
  • Upgrades to existing flower beds
  • General yard maintenance, including:
    • Relocation of shed with increased space for outdoor storage
    • Fence maintenance
backyard of the lodge before engineering day of caring construction began

Before

completed renovation at engineering day of caring project

After

“This is probably the best day of the year for us,” said Camille Challifoux, EDOC chair.

“We spend six months planning, and we pick an agency that we think could really use some extra help. It’s just one way that we give back with our time and skills… to an agency that needs a little help to do some maintenance and to lift their community up.”

For the last 13 years, the Engineering Day of Caring has made a tremendous impact on the community. They have leveraged their inherently competitive nature to achieve results for United Way by challenging each other to continually improve their campaigns and find innovative ways to have a direct, positive impact on our community.

Creating and improving spaces like the ones at Operation Friendship’s McCauley Lodge creates communities, and allows seniors to continue living an enjoyable, healthy active lifestyle. The new yard space will help alleviate social isolation and improve the mental health of seniors living at McCauley Lodge.