News / Halifax

Halifax Heroes: Sackville couple tracking and plotting ways to improve their community

Middle Sackville's Linda and Don Acker volunteer with track and field, Acadia Park's garden plots and grounds, and much more.

Don and Linda Acker at Metropolitan Field last Friday before setting out to volunteer at the provincial Special Olympics games in Antigonish.

Yvette d'Entremont/Metro

Don and Linda Acker at Metropolitan Field last Friday before setting out to volunteer at the provincial Special Olympics games in Antigonish.

There are days when people shout at Linda and Don Acker to get back to work when they take breaks from mowing the grass or tending to the gardens at Sackville’s Acadia Park.

But the senior couple are among a core group of volunteers who spend most days beautifying the well-loved community space on their own time.

“It’s always funny for us when someone yells at us for not working harder. A lot of people just don’t realize,” Don said.

“Then when you say this is volunteer they say ‘You’re doing this for nothing?’ Well hello, yes I am. Why? Because I enjoy doing it.”

The Ackers met with Metro Halifax on Friday morning shortly before leaving for Antigonish where they spent the weekend volunteering with the Special Olympics Nova Scotia provincial games. Don has been involved with that organization for about six years, Linda four.

In addition, Don has volunteered at local NSSAF track and field meets and provincials for the past 15 or 20 years. The couple have lost track of the exact number of years.

“I used to take vacations from work just to do them,” Don laughed.

He has also volunteered for years with the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships. In two weeks, he and Linda will lend their hands to both the Canada Games and Legion trials.

Don will also volunteer for the Atlantic trials.

“The biggest thing I get out of it is the athletes. It doesn’t matter if it is Special Olympics or high school or junior high,” Don said.

“We volunteer at the Aileen Meagher (track classic) for the past 12 plus years. I’ve started Olympians…they always come over and thank us, shake our hands.”

Besides their active and ongoing volunteerism with track and field, the pair spent the last five years on the grounds at Lower Sackville’s Acadia Park. Don looks after the mowing and also helps Linda, who spends most of her days tending to the gardens.

When the playground was installed on the site, she said Don spent at least 60 hours one week helping with construction.

“When you sit there and see the number of children that use that (playground) every day and the older people that walk through the park, it’s a great feeling,” Linda said.

“A lady walked up to me the other day and said ‘You know, it’s just like walking through the public gardens in Halifax.’ And I thought boy that’s quite a compliment. Sackville needed something like that and I think that’s why we got involved. Because Sackville needed it.”

The pair also volunteer with the stuff-a-bus initiative during the Christmas holidays and are active with their church, including a meals program offered through a collaboration of local churches.

Linda has also made more than 100 dresses for young girls in Africa.

“For the last two years instead of giving up chocolate for lent I’ve made dresses,” she laughed.

Don said his one wish is to see more people, particularly younger people, getting involved in their communities.

“Linda does a lot of things behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about. It doesn’t sound like much but when you figure out the hours it’s quite something,” he said.

“It would make a difference if people even volunteered one quarter of that time.”

Do you have someone to nominate?

Each Monday, we will profile an unsung volunteer hero in our community as part of Halifax Heroes. To nominate someone, email philip.croucher@metronews.ca, Metro Halifax's managing editor, or Tweet @metrohalifax using the hashtag #Halifaxheroes

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