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Guelph woman starts 'gratitude garden' to thank hospital staff

The garden consists of colourful hand-painted rocks with messages of appreciation left outside Guelph General Hospital

While keeping social distancing in mind, a Guelph woman had to come up with creative ways to thank hospital staff in the community. 

And the idea is resonating with many in the community.

“I’ve never experienced the reach of a viral post before. I keep getting notifications of organizations that are “sharing” my post that has no connection to the Guelph Rocks group. This is unreal,” said Jaclyn Gordon, member of Guelph Rocks, a Facebook group that aims to spread inspiration and creativity towards children and families in the community.

Gordon created what she calls a ‘gratitude garden’ which is a collection of hand-painted rocks with messages of appreciation and splashes of colour placed in front of the Guelph General Hospital in a time when social distancing is crucially important for the safety of oneself and others. 

She said she created the garden in hopes of raising the spirits of front line workers and showing them support during these troubling times. 

“I just thought that if people have an outlet to communicate that’s a little more prominent than saying a quick thank you. It’s not just words, it’s also beauty and colour,” said Gordon. 

“I know that there are many front line workers, many people that don’t get as much recognition per se that’s keeping us functioning during these times but I do feel a special connection with the hospital,” said Gordon who delivered both her children at Guelph General Hosptial. 

She said aside from political representatives, people will soon be looking to health care providers for leadership during this crisis and their bravery and sacrifice deserve to be recognized.

Gordon said she personally had a difficult time explaining to her children ages eight and four what COVID-19 is and why she’s home from work.

“You know they’re asking, ‘why can’t the doctors go home and be with their families too?’ I said ‘well if they go home nobody will care for the sick people, so they’re making sacrifices so that all of us can be safe,’” said Gordon adding that she really wanted to take her children to thank the doctors in person but obviously cannot right now because of the social distancing measures implemented by the province for the community’s safety. 

“This was just a way for them to express themselves and be heard when our voices are not so loud right now.”

She says since its original post on Guelph Rocks, the post was shared on multiple Facebook groups with people commending her initiative and expressing their interest to add to the garden. 

She says while people have expressed their intent to add colourful rocks to the gratitude garden, she hopes they do say while being safe. 

“It doesn’t just have to be directed towards hospital workers. It can be anybody that you experience gratitude for during these tough times but I think even the smallest gesture of kindness can keep people going when they’re feeling like giving up,” said Gordon.