To many children, Bonnie Clark may seem like Santa Claus.
Bonnie would give out gifts to the children in the Pacifica Housing complex in Victoria she lived in for roughly a decade, along with any other children she knew, for their birthdays or Christmas.
Though she didn’t have a lot of money, she would go to the dollar store and purchase books, jewelry boxes or knick knacks with inspirational sayings.
Each wrapped present was marked indicating whether it was for a boy or girl.
“All the kids in her complex that she lived in, she always made sure they got one,” said Langford resident Pat Kennedy, a long-time friend of Bonnie’s.
“Bonnie was a great person, she loved kids. She’d do anything for everybody and she’d go out of her way to help anybody.”
Kennedy originally met Bonnie 35 years ago. She and a friend were walking down the street when they saw Bonnie out with her friend.
“We were sitting around thinking about going to a bluegrass festival, so we invited them to come with us,” Kennedy laughed. “We’ve been good friends ever since.”
The random act sparked 35 years of friendship between the duo. Over the years, they would get together for birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving, when Bonnie would show up — presents in hand.
They would also attend bluegrass festivals and concerts together.
Kennedy also was there for the rough times in Bonnie’s life as well.
When Bonnie was 25 years old, her then-boyfriend Ernest Dixon, 32, slapped and pushed her in an altercation in their home in Sechelt. She broke her neck, which result in Clark’s quadriplegia.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Dixon was not criminally responsible for Clark’s broken neck and acquitted him on a charge of aggravated assault and found him guilt of the lesser included offense of common assault.
But being in a wheelchair never slowed her down.
Clark worked as an advocate for people who were newly paralyzed or victims of assault and helped out with counselling victim services for years.
But in September of last year Bonnie passed away, four months shy of her 51st birthday.
To honour her legacy, Kennedy along with some of Bonnie’s other friends, have raised more than $2,000 for the construction of a new $10,000 playground in Bonnie’s housing complex. The current playground hasn’t been replaced in 25 years.
“We really share a lot of the values that Bonnie has in terms of caring for children. We’re also incredibly inspired by the kindness that she touched people’s lives with,” said Sacha Sauvé, manager of fund development with Pacifica Housing, who will be installing the playground.
“It’s not every day that you lose someone and people come to your door and want to put a bench in their name. It was such a touching and inspiring gesture and we wanted to carry that.”
Pacifica Housing intends to consult with Bonnie’s friends and residents of the housing complex to see what they would like to see in a playground. It hopes to have the playground complete by the end of the summer.
To make a donation to Bonnie’s legacy visit pacificahousing.ca/donate-today.