Woodhaven men’s group provides support, helps build community

Henry Ford said, “Every man is better for a period of work under the open sky.” To which I would add, “And in the company of others.”

That is exactly what I saw when I recently visited the Woodhaven Men’s Shed.

Located in the Woodhaven Community Club (WCC) at 200 Glendale Street, the Shed is a place where men get together for social opportunities (i.e., neighbourhood walks, information sharing, coffee), creative activities (i.e., woodworking, games, crafts), and perhaps most importantly of all, conversation, camaraderie and community.

L to R: Doug, Bill, Doug, Bruno, Loris, Dave, Fran, Rob and Ralph are some of the many faces at the Woodhaven Men’s Shed. /JENNY GATES

Co-founded by Doug Mackie and Dave Friesen in 2011, the non-profit organization Mensheds Manitoba Inc. actually began a few years earlier with the two men meeting regularly to play cribbage. Eventually, others joined them and that led to the first Men’s Shed in Canada.

As Mackie explained, “For those who have too much time on their hands, are retired, widowed, lonely, isolated or depressed, the Shed is a place where they can be productive and contribute to the community.”

And contribute they do.

According to Mike Weber, President of the WCC, “Since moving here, the men have given back by building shelves, fixing doors, and doing an assortment of other jobs.”

This summer, the men will be partnering with Camp Manitou to build up to 22 picnic tables. And as part of the Canada 150 celebration, they will be partnering with Lee Valley to build bird houses for local organizations.

When asked how the wider community can support the Shed, Mackie suggested, “We have people wanting to learn new skills and people wanting to teach them, so donations of tools are especially welcome.”

A permanent woodworking shop is also on the wish list, and the men appreciate any opportunity to sell at craft tables the things they make when they get together. “It’s another way for us to promote who we are and what we can offer,” explained Friesen.

While Mackie and Friesen would like to see more men’s sheds in Winnipeg and beyond, they agree that what’s really needed is “… a health program in Canada that supports the mental well-being of senior men.”

If you or anyone you know would benefit from or enjoy what the Woodhaven Men’s Shed has to offer, join them for breakfast Wednesday mornings at 8:30 am at ANAVETS, 3584 Portage Ave, or drop in on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at the WCC.

Members and visitors come from various places in Winnipeg and Manitoba, and there’s no need to call – simply turn up and stay a while in the company of others.

“We’re here for you,” said Mackie. “So come and check us out.”

For more information, visit menssheds.ca/about-mens-sheds/ or www.facebook.com/menshedsmanitoba, or call (204) 804-5165.

Jenny Gates

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Freelance book editor, creative writer and experienced speaker at jennygates.com.

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