CLC Tree Services is no stranger to giving back. Not only has CLC donated time, expertise, and materials to local organizations, but we have organized the Ontario Commercial Arborists Association (OCAA) Annual South Western Day of Service every year since 2012. These events are a challenge to organize, but always amount to a labour of love that equals giving back to our community and building camaraderie within our local arboriculture community. This year was no different, as we headed to Teen Challenge Ontario Men’s Centre in London, Ontario.
The Challenges at Teen Challenge Ontario Men’s Centre
When Calvin McCallum reached out to Facilities Supervisor Andrew McLean last fall, Andrew’s jaw dropped at Calvin’s suggestion: a Day of Service offered by participating local arborists in exchange for lunch. The arborists would bring the equipment, expertise, skill, and crews to get the job done. In exchange, the Teen Challenge Ontario Men’s Centre would provide a location of sufficient size with enough tree work to keep crews busy for the day. Typically, organizations approached are non-profits or charities which would otherwise not be able to do the work themselves. The Ontario Men’s Centre definitely qualified.
“Teen Challenge Canada is a 12-month, faith-based, in-residence drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, for adults 18 years and older.”Teen Challenge Canada
Not only does the Ontario Men’s Centre sit on 46 acres, but the Teen Challenge Canada National Office is also located here. Originally the site of a nursing home, Teen Challenge located here in 1991. While the location has helped change numerous lives since that time, some of the buildings have seen better days. Construction of a new centre is slated for later this year, but before any shovels hit the ground, some prep work was needed.
Enter the Day of Service.
By offering to provide tree services work, the participating arborists effectively helped propel the construction efforts forward for this charitable organization. Teen Challenge Canada receives no government support, so a donation of tree work is a huge contribution. One they were overjoyed to receive.
“Teen Challenge Canada’s life-changing work is funded entirely through … generous donations.”Teen Challenge Canada
OCAA Day of Service
Friday, March 24th, 2023 dawned cool and cloudy, but big things were on the horizon. Crews from 10 tree services companies, two representatives from Universal Field Supplies, and Mark Graves, President of the OCAA, gathered to meet Andrew and get the lowdown from Calvin on what lay ahead. There was land clearing needed in front of the main building, tree removal and pruning across the property, plus stump grinding tasks as needed. It would be a busy day. After reviewing the short game plan, crews broke up to tackle the work.
One of the best parts of the day for the crews that attend is always the camaraderie that goes on between arborists. Usually, tree surgeons only see each other in passing, or at organized training days. Often there is competition or a lack of opportunity to connect, but during the Day of Service, crews typically get blended, so people can work with other arborists. This gives the opportunity to learn new techniques, to use different equipment, but most importantly, it builds a sense of community within the industry. All while doing their part to give back to their community. From that perspective alone, the day was a rousing success.
For the folks at Teen Challenge Canada, it went so far beyond that though. Clients watched the work going on around the property. It is their home for the 12 months they are in the program, so seeing the changes was heartwarming. Employees couldn’t stop staring out the windows to see the transformations. Even Chuck Butler, the Director of the Ontario Men’s Centre, couldn’t get over the generosity of so many.
“(Tree care) is one of the last things we spend money on but will save us thousands. This is such a blessing!”
He came out to watch trees fall and couldn’t believe how fast the crews made headway. So many of the Teen Challenge employees echoed Chuck’s sentiments—a blessing for all.
By day’s end, lead arborists on hand estimated that approximately $40,000 worth of tree services work was accomplished. Even Glen Smeltzer, Chief Executive Officer at Teen Challenge Canada, was overwhelmed by the work done. He made a point to come out to personally thank everyone in attendance and drove home how much the work meant: the folks assembled were an integral part in taking down old to make way for new growth. While Glen spoke of buildings, it was a great metaphor for what Teen Challenge does every day for those who come to them for help. They tear down old ways of coping and living to make way for new, healthier mindsets to lead fuller and more productive lives.
** Thank you to Allgreen Tree Service, Arbor 1 Tree Service, Bowman Tree Service, Chatham Tree Service, ConservaTree, Icon Tree Service, Millenial Tree Care, Wright’s Tree Care, Peter Castell (works with Arborist Ground Worker Training Program at Career Foundations), and of course all of the staff at CLC Tree Services for participating in the 2023 – 9th Annual OCAA South Western Day of Service. Thank you also to the OCAA for hosting and promoting such an incredible event.
See you next year!