Wednesday, March 29, 2023


The Rotary Club of Sooke was approached this past spring to assist in any way possible with renovating The Grouse Nest, a closed seaside resort in the area to accommodate refugees fleeing the war in the Ukraine. The new Ukrainian Safe Haven currently houses close to three dozen refugees in a safe environment. Those that are in need of it are being taught English, and given support in finding work within the community.

Members of the club stepped up to help clear a path through the woods to allow for the installation of a new water line. They then cut, split and stacked cords of firewood, and built a fire pit/sitting area down by the beach.

Over a dozen recovered bicycles from the RCMP were repaired and donated for the use of the refugees. The children were particularly excited to get a set of wheels to tour the area.

A music concert was held in the spring, and over $7000 was raised towards the day-to-day operation of the Haven.

It was mentioned that a picnic table would be a great addition to the area. Club President John Topolniski contacted local merchants for support, and Home Hardware stepped up and donated the hardware and paint, and Slegg Building Materials donated the necessary lumber. The William Head Institution, a local minimum security penitentiary, agreed to have the inmates in their Community Connections / Work 2 Give program to assemble and paint the tables. Sooke Rotary has previously worked with the institution to have them build Little Free Libraries, which we install throughout our community. The quality of the workmanship is incredible and the inmates take great pride in being able to give back to society.

In the end, not one, but four tables were built and painted in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Three full-size tables for adults and one downsized specifically for children.

Several of the inmates are proficient knitters and made sock monkeys for the kids. They can take these with them when they move on to their accommodations in the future, or even better when they return to their homes and families in Ukraine.

The residents are very appreciative. The tables allow them to sit down and have quiet conversations away from all the noise of the main residence.

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