The light is back in the eyes of one of Parksville’s homeless individuals, after she was presented with the opportunity to help remodel a home and property on Jensen Avenue.
The home, at 163 Jensen Avenue West, was purchased by Jason Traversy, who has moved to Parksville from Vancouver. Traversy worked on the set of ‘Chesapeake Shores’ as a greensperson doing all the landscaping for the set. He searched for almost a year to find affordable real estate in the Parksville area but also something he could make his own.
“The reason why nobody wanted to buy this house was because of the homelessness,” Traversy said. “[The house] is right next to the Salvation Army where [the homeless] get fed… so they would be hanging out under the trees.”
Traversy didn’t see the homeless individuals hanging out around the property as a problem, instead he saw an opportunity.
“I basically said do you want to come and do a little bit of work for me and at first they were a little reluctant and then one or two joined in,” Traversy said.
Currently, about four homeless individuals are at the house on and off, providing landscaping assistance, gardening, digging and various other tasks. Traversy believes gardening is therapy and it can help individuals find purpose.
“They’re getting stronger and healthier and I can see their energy levels,” Traversy said.
Cathrine, 25, has lived on the streets in Parksville for more than two years. She says gardening for Traversy has helped keep her busy and given her purpose for her day.
“[Traversy] has given me that light back in my eye, some sort of hope to the end of this tunnel,” she said. “I’ve felt privileged. He’s bragging about how good of a job in the garden I’ve done. Just sitting there and him telling me about his wife and how he came across from the Mainland and coming here and buying this place and his goals to make opportunities for people who don’t have those advantages. He’s all-around a great person just for doing that. You don’t find people like that.”
Not only is she keeping busy with gardening and helping out around the Jensen Avenue property, she’s also anticipating getting off the streets and moving into Orca Place, Parksville’s supportive housing facility at 222 Corfield, expected to open this summer.
“I was one of the first to get my applications done,” she said.
Stimpson said once she gets back on her feet, she hopes to one day open a dance studio. She said people in the community know her as the ‘Dancing Queen’ because she’s often spotted dancing around town.
The Jensen house and yard are being completely renovated and Traversy believes there’s still about a month or so left before it’s complete. Once the house is liveable, Traversy’s wife and 10-month-old daughter will join him from the Mainland and start their lives together in Parksville.
“I’m at that point now where the fence will go up next week, the house is being painted and a new metal roof is being put on. I’m starting my own gardening company over here, it will be called Grace Garden Healers because you’re basically healing [people] and healing the garden at the same time.”