Local resident and artist Val Sheekey is one of those women who makes me wonder how does she do it all? "It all" being an eclectic mix of creative, productive and volunteer work. She creates and sells a variety of handcrafts, including stained glass, metal work, and knit pieces. With her husband, Ray, she raises chickens and sheep; they garden; they rent out a rustic little cabin on their riverfront property. And Val is an active volunteer in the community, giving countless hours to VCARS victim's assistance program and the Canadian Mental Heath Association, just to name a few.
It's no surprise, then, that Val brings her sense of community and giving on her travels, too. Ray and Val spend their winters in Mexico but they don't do the tourist beat. Sometimes they pick coffee beans or help an innkeeper prepare and serve dinners; and they give in ways they can.
One of Val's initiatives is to provide vitamins for children and families living in the poor neighbourhoods near the fishing village where she and Ray spend the winter. Val raises money for the vitamins by knitting and selling scarves here at home. Last year she raised over $800.
Here's an excerpt from an email newsletter Val sends out from San Blas, Mexico:
"Last Thursday I delivered the vitamins. I went with a woman who didn't speak any English. We went into the poorest area of San Blas and it was pretty upsetting. I came home feeling pretty depressed. It felt like such a drop in the bucket. I said to Ray, You know how you complain that our couch is too low? Never do that again. Not one of the houses I saw even had a couch. They didn't even have doors on the houses. I'm thinking about it and trying to come up with a plan to do more."Jim and I are trying to help by making Val's Vitamin Scarves available for guests to buy here at the inn. Val hand-knits them herself in a variety of gorgeous colours and lengths. They sell for $10 each, with all proceeds going towards the vitamins.
We hope you'll consider taking one home after your next visit to the inn. Not only do they support a good cause, they are beautiful, soft and quintessentially Canadian.
Another tidbit of information about Val and Ray... chances are high you'll meet their cat (actually, Val always refers to him as "Ray's cat") during a winter visit here at Fern Glen Inn. Kitty, aka Titou, graces us with his presence while his people are in the sunny south. He often entertains guests with his tail-chasing antics, but he rules our dog with an iron paw.