To meet the requirements of the Grade 12 music course in her final year of high school, Grace Chretien had to compose and perform a unique piece of music. Inspiration, however, as so often happens when a deadline looms over creativity, was difficult to come by, and Grace had trouble getting started.
At roughly the same time, she also struggled with the fact that her steady stream of hundreds of volunteer hours at The Village of Glendale Crossing was coming to an end as she prepared to move to St. Catharines to study music education at Brock University. Since she began volunteering there in 2013, The Village held a big portion of Grace’s heart, helping her grow out of her shell of shyness and teaching her that no matter what life throws at you, it’s worth living every moment to its fullest.
“One day it hit me,” Grace recalls. “Why not write a piece of music as my goodbye and thank you? I knew that music is something that all the residents really enjoyed so I thought that this would be perfect.”
She remembered a framed quote upon a desk in the chapel that reads: “If you can’t put days into their life, put life into their days,” and Grace’s creative mind went from there.
“Since I first saw it, I loved this quote and used it as my philosophy for my work at Glendale,” she says, “so I thought it would be the perfect title for my piece.” In June, alongside a few talented classmates, she performed Life to Their Days as a gift of gratitude to her friends at Glendale Crossing. She had purpose behind the composition, she says, thinking back to how quickly she fell in love with the village after those first few visits when she was in Grade 8.
“I knew that volunteering once a month was no longer enough to feed my new passion, so I applied to be a weekly volunteer,” Grace says, looking back. “I then began to volunteer every Thursday with various different recreation activities and continued that until this past August when I moved away for school.”
Throughout high school, Grace always kept Glendale as a priority in her life, often choosing her volunteer work over school dances or outings with friends. It meant that much to her.
Grace is one of those special people who come along every once in a while, says Jessica Stanic, one of the village’s recreation team members. At a young age she offered her time and her entire self to the village residents “because her heart was just in it,” Jessica says.
And Grace, in her humble way, says she gained plenty of life skills at Glendale Crossing to guide her into the future, including a keen perspective on patience and understanding in her communication with people of all abilities; something she knows will be of value as she pursues a career in music education.
“Having volunteered at Glendale for five years, I heard a lot of incredible life stories,” she says, “and unfortunately, I also saw a lot of loss. These things remind me that we only have one life so we might as well make the best of what we’ve got.”