18 December 2023
It’s the Season of Giving, and we’re profiling a few Friends of Silvera — the organizations and individuals who so generously support residents with their time, energy and skills. Become a Friend of Silvera or donate today!
June Wong is an energetic Friend of Silvera, with both her head and hands full of projects, ideas and ambitions. She was instrumental in starting the free little fibre library at Silvera’s Gilchrist Commons seniors’ community in Pineridge last year and is planning other fibre-related events to keep residents active and connected.
By day, June works in programming and member services at the Village Square Library. In her own time, she is a community organizer who has thrown her organizational skills and energy into launching the Calgary Meals on Wheels YYC Hot Chocolate Fest and the Calgary Cat Festival to raise money for animal rescue groups.
She comes by her love of both seniors and fibre arts honestly. “My grandmother was an Asian Martha Stewart,” Jane quips. “She was a self-taught sewer, knitter and crocheter and she did those things until her very last days. I like doing crafts too and want to continue her legacy.”
June got the idea for a free fibre library from an acquaintance who mentioned the free little fibre library outside Wild Hand, a knitting store and fibre community in Pennsylvania. June thought it sounded fun to connect people through fibre crafts while eliminating waste and conserving resources. She sourced a little book library from work and, with the help of Silvera, turned it into a free little fibre library at Gilchrist.
A team of Silvera people and volunteers like June are working together on programming and ways to build seven more fibre libraries at Silvera communities before next summer.
“These little libraries offer a community space for Calgarians to donate yarn or access our donations and for Calgarians to learn fibre hobbies,” says June.
There are many mental wellness benefits to being creative with yarn. The rhythmic, repetitive motions of knitting and crocheting release serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, learning, and sleep.
In addition, there are many environmental benefits to upcycling yarn and other fabrics. “Fast fashion is taking its toll environmentally, and upcycling these fabrics and yarns is a positive emerging trend to help combat that,” she says.
June would love to help Silvera residents create online knitting or crocheting video tutorials to help viewers develop their skills. She’s also aiming to get a wool donation booth set up at a knitting conference in Vancouver next summer to provide an influx of yarn into Gilchrist’s little fibre library.
She is excited about the potential for intergenerational knitting ‘yarnies’, matching high school students with seniors to work together on projects. “Many teens really embrace the ‘do it yourself’ mindset and it would be amazing to have residents mentoring them.”
June doesn’t think we’ll see older people sitting in recliners knitting granny squares in future generations. “Seniors can become upcycle designers and TikTok superstars, teaching people about fibre creations. They have the potential to play a huge role in the fibre space, while staying active and involved in their communities.”