Altrusa Club members

Putting seniors in the shade

As the warm sun beats down, the Altrusa Club’s most recent project seems all the more important

As the warm sun beats down, the Altrusa Club’s most recent project seems all the more important.

The charitable group is in the midst of building a pergola, an archway of sorts that will be covered with greenery to create a shaded space for the seniors living in the Seth Norton building.

The apartment building, which accommodates low-income seniors and is operated by the John Perkins Memorial Housing Society, is located on 14th Avenue behind Ironwood Place.

It’s home to more than 60 seniors but it’s impossible for the residents to find any shade on a hot day.

Judy Lambert, Seth Norton Project Committee Chairperson, said the idea for the pergola and other improvements to the backyard patio, came about last year after a visit with a friend who lives in the building.

“I asked her if they needed anything and she mentioned she’d like the chairs re-painted,” Lambert said. “I came by to see them and I noticed all they had were these plastic round tables and chairs that were really wobbly and not suitable for seniors at all. I also noticed they had no shade to sit in and last summer it was really hot.”

So, the Campbell River branch applied to Altrusa International for some assistance and received $2,300 – the largest grant available.

The club also received a living will bequeath of $5,000 from past Altrusa Club member Dora-Lee Graham.

“The day she passed away was also the day we started on the project,” said Lambert.

The project involves not only construction of a large, L-shaped pergola to border the patio but also replacement of the benches surrounding the area which are deteriorating, as well as construction of new tables and chairs to replace the picnic tables.

The industrial arts class from Phoenix middle school will help build one of the tables and a bench, while Home Hardware and the Home Depot have helped with the cost of supplies. Johnston Structural Engineering donated all of the plans for the backyard patio. But more help is still needed.

“We need carpenter volunteers,” Lambert said. “We want to replicate the table that the Phoenix students will be making for us, and we need carpenters to do that.”

The Altrusa Club is also welcoming any donations of perennial plantings such as wisteria and clematis to grow on the pergola, plantings to improve the raised garden beds and possibly add another, as well as volunteers willing to lend a hand with the gardening.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Judy Lambert at 250-923-4777 or or Janet Baker at

The Campbell River branch of the Altrusa Club has 27 members and is one of only two in  Canada. The club supports more than 20 community groups and in the past 30 years has given $675,000 back to Campbell River.