A group of volunteers gathered around Bess Srahulek’s front yard this afternoon, eager to fix what went wrong during last weekend’s Fake Homecoming event on Broughdale Avenue.
Srahulek has lived on Broughdale Avenue since 1960. Last Saturday, the 87-year-old's garden was destroyed when people celebrating FOCO trampled her lawn, ruining the garden planted by her late husband, John.
Western students, faculty and London community members came out to the event on Oct. 5 to help replant Srahulek’s yard. Volunteers planted flowers and placed stones around the perimeter of the yard. Bravo! Property Care & Services brought in material and tools, helping with landscaping. Material was also purchased to repair Srahulek’s fence.
Maya Bielecki, a third-year computer science student, is the founder of the event and the GoFundMe initiative that raised close to $2,000 for Srahulek’s yard. A neighbour of Srahulek's, Bielecki started the fundraiser on Oct. 3. after seeing the damage to Srahulek's yard.
“I’m very thrilled and pleased to see this reaction, and it’s something that I need to see because sometimes we can get quite negative,” Srahulek said. “I’m just absolutely thrilled. I knew there was a lot of good out there and this is proving it to me.”
Srahulek expressed her thoughts about Bielecki and even put her in charge of landscaping the yard.
“Maya was asking what I liked, and she was really trying hard to please me,” Srahulek said. "I said 'do your thing,' and she’s doing a wonderful job. She is certainly a very good leader.”
University Students' Council president Tobi Solebo also came out to the event to show support and volunteer to help repair the damage made to Srahulek’s yard.
“I think students realized ... there’s also repercussions, and that’s why it’s awesome that students are willing to do something like this to come out and help Bess with the garden,” Solebo said. “Western students are a part of the community, and I think this [event] is really showing that."
Second-year medical sciences student, Michaela Skarlicki, came to the event to lend a helping hand. She initially heard about the event on Facebook after seeing Maya Bielecki’s post and GoFundMe page. She messaged Bielecki asking if she could volunteer.
“I did come to the FOCO event and to Broughdale, so I know it was hectic, and it was really unfortunate that this poor lady’s garden was trampled,” Skarlicki said. “That was our mistake, and we should be the ones to come and make it right.”