Men's group at Unity House helping themselves by helping nature - InfoNews

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Men's group at Unity House helping themselves by helping nature

Robert Watson with a display of bird houses, bee and bat boxes his men's group builds at Unity House in Penticton.
May 17, 2019 - 4:00 PM

PENTICTON - It might seem like a simple project on the surface, but Robert Watson and a group of Penticton men at Unity House are using it to improve their lives, repurpose waste products and improve the lives of living things around them.

Watson headed up a woodworking project in the men’s group at Unity House last year, building “bat boxes”- simple wood structures roughly two feet square, designed to provide shelter for about 100 bats.

“My goal was to help someone else. We get a lot of help here ourselves, we help each other, and we all think that way,” Watson said.

The project was also designed as a means of relaxation for the men’s group providing, a form of therapy while also creating something useful.

Watson says the group has “a lot of fun” working with wood.

“It’s kind of like a drop in program, we remind each other through the week when we’re going to meet, have lunch that day, then do some building,” he says.

The group started out making bat boxes then added bee boxes to their inventory last year.

More recently, the group began making bird houses.

The houses can be placed on residential or rural properties as shelter for each species.

Watson says the wood is sourced from waste piles of a couple of Penticton wood mills. The group has a work area outside Unity House where they can work on their projects and socialize.

The six men use the proceeds to fund Unity House activities and purchase materials for the boxes. The project is self-funded, Watson says.

Watson says he’s selling the products out of Unity House because he wants to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues by having the community visit and become more familiar with the members.

The group’s next step is to build some inventory to provide some choice to buyers, especially for bird houses.

Watson has 10 artists organized to create unique fronts to the bird houses, which will sell for a variety of prices.

He says the bee boxes have been a good seller because of their natural look, selling for $40 to $60.

The bat boxes sell for $40, and can be purchased at Unity House, 2852 Skaha Lake Road.

Penticton's Unity House provides social, recreational and educational programs for individuals living with a mental illness.

For more information, contact Unity House at: 250-493-6327.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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