With a brush or rag in one hand and a water and soap in the other, a group of dedicated volunteers humbly pulls up their sleeves every week to show “a little love” to the military headstones at the Notre-Dame Cemetery in Ottawa.
These volunteers can be spotted at the cemetery every Saturday morning for three hours from Oct. 14 to Nov. 4.
The project is an initiative of the MFRC-NCR, Military Family Resource Centre of the National Capital Region. It is the first year the MFRC is launching an initiative like this in order to be a part of this year’s Remembrance Day services and show support of Canada’s veterans and their families.
According to Karen Groutsche, Employment and Volunteer Services Coordinator for the MFRC-NCR the volunteers collectively feel that the least they can do for these veterans is kneel before them and do the work they’re doing.
“They [volunteers] realize they’re really really lucky to be living in Canada and they’re very respectful of the people that are buried there because they enjoy the freedom they have because of them,” said Groutsche.
The group of 30 volunteers is a mix of serving members and young military families. Groutsche says the numbers keep growing every week as the word spreads, especially amongst young families.
“They’re really keen on bringing awareness to the younger generation,” noted Groutsche.
As they clean the headstones, Groutsche says everyone also takes the time out to reflect on what they’re doing and why.
“Every headstone has a history, somebody who served, somebody who sacrificed their life so we can stand today,” stated Troutsche.
There are a few hundred military headstones at the Notre-Dame Cemetery and the goal is to take the remaining Saturdays and have them all cleaned up before Remembrance Day.
Also, as part of their programs for Remembrance Day, the NCR MFRC will visit a local retirement home and share original poems developed from the MFRC’s poet circle.
To volunteer for this project register by contacting the MFRC’s Employment and Volunteer Services Coordinator at [email protected]