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Building support in Vanderhoof: Clifford Irving

Clifford Irving is on a mission to lend a helping hand through the Vanderhoof Men’s Shed
Clifford Irving (second from the right in the back row) stands with his Vanderhoof Men’s Shed companions at a grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust on July 10, 2020. (Contributed by Vanderhoof Men’s Shed)

Having a strong connection to Vanderhoof, Clifford Irving hopes to contribute to men and give back to his community.

Irving was born and raised in Vanderhoof. After getting married, he moved to Prince Rupert for eight years and to Houston for two years. However, he felt a pull back to Vanderhoof and returned with his family.

Irving worked as a general manager for 47 years before retiring. To contribute his free time to something valuable and give back to his community, Irving decided to join the Vanderhoof Men’s Shed.

The Vanderhoof Men’s Shed is a non-profit organization which started eight years ago. It allows men to share their skills and spend time together, Irving introduced. The organization currently has 74 members.

“The Vanderhoof Men’s Shed was the second one in Canada and the first one in British Columbia. The Men’s Shed movement is for men to interact with each other. We call it ‘shoulder to shoulder.’ It’s a place where they can come when they’ve retired or lost a spouse.”

Irving and his members fix and restore furniture, appliances, garden tools, and lawnmowers. Items that can be sold are put up for sale, while non-sellable items are either sent to the landfill or offered for free.

They also help older or disabled people by building wheelchair ramps, installing safety bars, repairing mobility aids, and moving furniture to their new address.

Irving believes that taking care of men’s mental and physical health is important.

“They’re not very open about their health. If there’s a bunch of us together, then we can talk about it. The comrades here care about one another. It’s another avenue for them to work through difficult times.”

Serving as the treasurer and a member of the executive team of Vanderhoof Men’s Shed, Irving wants to help men in the community.

“It’s very straightforward. We’re involved with the Men’s Shed and it helps the community. We give back through volunteer hours and everything that we put into it. It’s part of the community, which is very resilient and also very caring.”

He’s also part of the Nechako View Senior Citizens Home, supporting and helping older adults.

“It’s my contribution back to the community,” Irving said.

After all these years of being a part of Vanderhoof, Irving appreciates and enjoys his life here.

“I’ve lived here. My family was raised here and brought up here. It’s a great community.”