Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

We all know the tune, right?

In today’s world, Mister Rogers’ neighborhood seems all the more inviting. As we stick closer to home, many of us look to our neighbours—for support and the occasional and much-needed physically distant chat.

With this post, we celebrate the Mister Rogers in all of us. Here are just a few of the many UVic staff, faculty, students and alumni who are leaning out to connect and support their neighbours.

Virtual voices in motion

Voices in Motion was not going to let a pandemic stop them from singing. Under the direction of Erica Phare-Bergh and her husband Rick Bergh, the UVic-led multigenerational choir now comes together a few times a week to practice via Zoom and Facebook Live.

zoom choir practice

Laura Dutton and daughter

Laura Dutton and her daughter model their homemade masks

Masks for neighbours

The provincial government says wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of germs. Visual arts prof Laura Dutton saw an opportunity to help.

“When I heard quilting cotton was the best material to use for homemade masks I realized I had that kind of fabric left over from a project, so I pulled the sewing machine out of storage,” says Laura.

Laura and her daughter have been making masks at home since. They give them out to friends and family.

Spreading ha-pea-ness

On a mission to create their own 10-foot ‘garden-to-table’ way of life, Adrien Castle (Community and Government Relations) and her son have been repurposing veggie scraps and nurturing seedlings. They started a new ‘seedling adoption program’, handing out free seedlings to friends and neighbours.

Adrien's son poses with sprouts

Adrien’s son with their seedlings.

Delivering food and sharing stories

Anyone who knows Fine Arts’ John Threlfall and his family will not be surprised to hear that they’ve been going above and beyond for their neighbours during this pandemic.

The family packs and delivers groceries with the Fernwood NRG’s Good Food Box program.

“It’s a good way to help out in my neighbourhood and to check in with the people I’m delivering to—many of whom are happy to see a smiling face bringing them healthy food!” says John.

The Threlfalls also installed a new “little free library” in front of their house to bolster the sense of community on their street. Since it was installed a week ago, it’s had over 50 books come and go.

John T and wife pose with book library

Beth and John Threlfall with their new library.

Brightening up the neighbourhood

Ali's window

Ali’s front window

It’s not easy to keep a four-year-old busy while you’re working full-time. Communications + Marketing’s Ali Baggott is finding creative ways to keep her little one busy brightening their neighbourhood.

Ali and her son created an adorable family of painted rocks at the base of their tree in their front yard. The also put up a message of ‘Stronger together’ in their front window to remind passersby to do their part to flatten the curve.

“All of the different hearts on the window are a thank you to all of the different essential workers who are doing their part so we can stay home,” says Ali.

Cooking for community

Jen's packaged meals

Jen’s packaged meals for neighbours in need.

For some of us, it’s not easy to find a cooked meal right now. Many people rely on community organizations for regular meals. But many of these programs are on hold due to COVID-19. Jen Kyffin (Research Partnerships & Knowledge Mobilization) has been trying to fill the void by cooking meals for isolated seniors in her community.


Staying together while apart

Political Science Instructor Grace Lore and her neighbours know who they can call when they need something. They’re using a Google document to exchange their addresses and phone numbers as well as a list of what they have to share.

“This coming together also helps us stay apart. Going to the grocery store? Send a few notes to see if anyone needs anything. Maybe you can help the whole neighbourhood by helping one or two neighbours,” says Grace.

Grace and her family have also dropped off toys and books at the doorsteps of friends. “Have a book you’ve read 1000s of times? A puzzle you’ve done? A game you’re not playing anymore?  Give your hands a wash and your toys a clean, get some fresh air, and do a drop off.  Toys are for the kids and the two minutes of peace are for the parents.”

Sharing words of encouragement

Through UVic Kind Mail, alumni, faculty, staff and community members are sharing messages of support and encouragement to students during this challenging time.

Chemists fight COVID

UVic researchers recently made 200 litres of hand sanitizer to donate to Island Health.

“It’s been incredible to witness how we can quickly and efficiently pull together, in these extraordinary times, to use our knowledge as scientists to help our community,” says UVic chemist David Leitch.

Manufacturing face shields

Lisa in lab

Lisa in her lab with fellow students

Lisa Jeffery, a fourth-year UBC medical student at the Island Medical Program (IMP) is volunteering with a UVic initiative to 3D-print face shields for frontline health workers.

“When this opportunity came up, I recognized it as a great opportunity to help. These folks are doing an incredible service,” says Lisa. “A few family doctors in Victoria have already received the face shields and are quite pleased.”


Virtual healthcare

UVic Alumni Blake Adam (co-founder and CEO of Medimap) and Mike Cousins (PurposeMed team) are part of an initiative to offer Canadians access to safe and secure virtual care. Mike and Blake were working on a platform to serve patients in remote communities—then saw its potential to help during the pandemic.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we quickly realized that our application could be used more generally as doctors everywhere are being forced to isolate if they have symptoms,” says Mike. “They can now use our application to conduct their regular appointments over a video call, and most provincial governments across Canada have responded by providing new billing codes enabling them to do this.”

7 p.m. cheer

It’s inspiring to hear the noise throughout Victoria every night at 7 p.m. We know many of you are joining in to show support for frontline healthcare workers! Here are a few pictures of UVic staff in action.

We’re so proud of our UVic community!  Here is to those of you supporting your neighbours and also to those who are looking for ways to connect. Let’s keep that momentum going!

We want to hear from our neighbours! So won’t you please, won’t you please, please won’t you let us know in the comments what’s happening in your neighbourhood.

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