In Japan, the crane is known as a bird of happiness – a symbol of luck and longevity. It’s believed it lives 1000 years and represents determination and healing. For Zenko Takei-Devriese, the crane seemed like the perfect way to inspire hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May 2021, the Kingston resident reached out to the local Japanese community looking for volunteers for a special project. Her vision was to create a piece of art featuring 1000 hand folded origami paper cranes, which she would donate.
At the time she didn’t know where she would gift the finished piece, but she wanted the artwork to be installed somewhere where it could inspire hope for a happy, healthy, livable, and peaceful community. She felt it was needed, especially since so many people continue to struggle with the impacts of the pandemic.
One day while driving past Providence Care Hospital inspiration struck. An unexplainable feeling came over Takei-Devriese telling her this should be the location for the paper cranes.
“We wanted to show our support for and cheer on our frontline healthcare workers, especially during these very stressful times,” explained Takei-Devriese.
Luck must have been on Takei-Devriese’s side, because a few months and hundreds of paper cranes later, she had a chance encounter with Tony Barerra. The two started chatting, that’s when she learned Barerra works at the hospital. He immediately put her in touch with Krista Wells Pearce, Providence Care’s Vice President of Planning and Corporate Support Services.
“When Zenko reached out to me about the artwork and what it represents, I was so amazed. It was an immediate yes from Providence Care to accept this heartfelt donation,” said Wells Pearce. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging and strenuous on all healthcare workers, and Providence Care’s staff and physicians are no exception. It’s an incredible feeling knowing people like Zenko are thinking of us and want to give back. We can’t thank her and the other volunteers in the Japanese community enough for creating such a special gift.”
It took volunteers almost nine months to hand fold the 1000 cranes needed for the piece, but that was just the first step. The second step involved Takei-Devriese intricately stringing each and every one of them onto a large hanger. That alone took almost another three months. But all that hard work paid off and in February 2022, the artwork was ready for its debut.
“The best part of the project was bringing the community together to work towards a good cause. I haven’t even met some of the volunteers who helped us make this a reality,” beamed Takei-Devriese. “On behalf of the Japanese community in Kingston, I am donating this to Providence Care with the same intention as when I started this project – folding for hope! Hoping that 2022 will be a better year for everyone and hoping that this pandemic will be over soon.”
Now whenever someone walks into Providence Care Hospital they’re greeted by a flock of beautiful, colourful cranes.
“It’s so beautiful! I’ve seen so many people stop and stare at the artwork. I know it will always bring a smile to our faces when we walk by,” said Wells Pearce. “Our organization is so grateful for this amazing network of local volunteers. Thinking about how much time and effort they put into the piece, I can’t thank them enough. I have no doubt our staff and the people we serve are going to enjoy this artwork for years to come.”
It’s only been a few weeks but the stunning masterpiece is already spreading happiness, which is exactly what cranes are known for.