June 28, 2018: Remembering Monica Freedman; Community Activist Passes.

June 28, 2018: Remembering Monica Freedman;
Community Activist Passes.

By L. Hoad HCA.

Always ready for a celebration, Monica loved going out with friends for a meal, especially the annual New Year’s Eve dinner at Hino’s restaurant.

The Hintonburg Community Association (HCA) and the Hintonburg community lost a long-time member and enthusiastic supporter when Monica Freedman died on June 12th.

Many residents will remember Monica at HCA events, coralling people to remind them to renew their memberships or asking them to join the community association. So many of us can trace our membership back to Monica. In addition she was a member of the Board of Directors for many years and was always ready to help with any project.

Monica was born in Cincinnati and immigrated to Kingston in 1965 with her family. She worked at the Prison for Women as a social worker for many years, then with the Elizabeth Fry Society in Kingston and Ottawa.

She arrived in Ottawa in the mid-nineties and joined the HCA Board shortly after that. Active on several HCA committees, she also served on the Board of Newswest for many years.

Monica was the ‘eyes on the street’ for Hinton Avenue where she lived until 2005. She chatted with all her neighbours and kept up with the comings and goings. In 2009, after a few years in an apartment on Parkdale Avenue, Monica moved to the Grace Manor due to increasing mobility issues. She continued to attend meetings and events, cheerful as ever in her wheelchair. Always ready for a celebration, Monica loved going out with friends for a meal, especially the annual New Year’s Eve dinner at Hino’s restaurant.

We were pleased to organize an informal Celebration of Life for Monica and her family from Toronto and Alberta to let them know how much she was appreciated and remembered.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa at http://CanadaHelps.org .

With the support of Monica’s family the HCA will plant a tree in Monica’s memory this fall in a Hintonburg park.

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Photo Caption: Long time Social Worker and community activist, Monica Freedman, shown with Mayor Jim Watson, was an energetic contributor to many community undertakings, including several terms on the Newswest Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of the Hintonburg Community Association.

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Photo Caption: Dining at a local restaurant

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Photo Caption: A younger Monica, and Monica at the Annual Hintonburg Kingle Event.

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April 12, 2018: A West End Garden Legacy; Sherry Clarke’s enduring work.

April 12, 2018: A West End Garden Legacy;
Sherry Clarke’s enduring work.

By Deb Chapman.

When you have three kids under the age of ten and live close to a park, that park becomes like a second home. That was the case for Sherry Clarke who lived just half a block away from the Clare Gardens Park on Evered.

Back in 2008, Shane 3, Alicia 6, and Kayleigh 11, spent most of their free time meeting friends and burning off energy on the play structures, and running around the field. But after 20 years of kids and teens having fun, the play structures were showing their age. The park was in decline.

The wood in the play structures was decaying and pieces were falling off. The park’s pathways had potholes. They didn’t connect. Teens were using the play structures to explore all sorts of more ‘adult behaviours’. The nearby bench was being used after dark for dope deals. The beautiful tree-lined park was showing decay and needed something to make its users respect it again.

Sherry had a great idea to make the park sparkle again. Why not ask owners for permission to remove perennials and shrubs from proposed infill developments, and transplant the plants to Clare Gardens Park? Developers and owners alike whole-heartedly agreed to every donation.

Everyone likes to save plants that add a little beauty in our lives. And so neighbours began guerrilla gardening, giving the plants on death row a reprieve. Garden beds were created where grass refused to grow. Visitors took notice of the landscaping improvements and it seemed like the park was getting a second chance.

The guerrilla gardeners have since gone legit. Now known as the Volunteer Gardeners of Clare Park, the gardeners have adopted the park, and partner with the Westboro Community Association on park clean-ups and special events. Gardens now encircle the park and new, engaging play structures have been added. Ten years on, Clare Gardens Park attracts visitors from neighbourhoods as far away as Chinatown, Ottawa South, and Woodroffe to the west.

Thanks to the vision and creative thinking of Sherry Clark, Clare Gardens Park is a success story. Her approach to recycling plants has made news across the province and the gardeners are often asked for advice by other community groups in Ottawa.

Sherry died last fall after a valiant fight against breast cancer. This community-minded trailblazer never stopped giving back to the community. Two weeks before her death, Sherry helped organize a fundraiser for the Sherrypalooza Run for the Cure team. She believed in giving back. The gardens she imagined, and worked to build, in Clare Park, will continue to bring beauty and a healthier environment for everyone to enjoy.

The Volunteer Gardeners of Clare Park are committed to continuing Sherry’s legacy. If you would like to join the gardeners and spend some time in the park making it pretty, please contact us. If you’re a parent, it’s a great way to be near your kids but give them some independence while they play. For everyone else, it’s a nice way to spend some time in nature. All are welcome. Drop us a line at: volunteergardenersofclarepark@gmail.com .

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Photo Caption: Sherry Clarke is fondly remembered for her generosity of spirit and her energy in making many lasting contributions to the enhancement and growth of her neighbourhood and her community. Clare Park Gardens represent just one facet of her legacy. Photo courtesy the Clark/Rivet family.