George Shipley

George volunteers with DIGA because “It’s very fulfilling and it’s fun for us [woodshop volunteers] to see people enjoy themselves. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that!”

What to do when you retire: have fun!

For over ten years, George Shipley has offered his design expertise as a volunteer woodshop coordinator for the Disabled Independent Gardening Association (DIGA). We are so fortunate to have George as part of the) DIGA team! Without his help in constructing garden-related projects, DIGA would not have been able to grow into the beautiful and barrier-free society that it is today. 

George’s dedication to the Disability Foundation became clear when he said that the reason that he started volunteering with DIGA was because of his volunteer work with a different society under the Disability Foundation umbrella, Tetra Society of North America. George chuckled saying, “My work with DIGA started out several years ago. I was a Tetra volunteer and at one of the meetings someone said they needed help installing a sprinkler and irrigation system for DIGA, so I volunteered to help and I’ve been helping out ever since!” 

George Shipley and volunteer installing watering system for DIGA.

Timed sprinkler systems, birdhouses, and raised beds are just some of the numerous projects that George has completed for us over the years. Describing the raised beds, George said: “These things are 1.5-foot-wide, 1 foot deep, and 3 foot long and they stand on legs. Someone in a wheelchair could come up next to them and do their gardening.” He added: “Watering has always been a problem with these [garden beds] so we put a reservoir in the bottom of the box. This allows the plant roots to take up the water through the soil and you only have to refill the reservoir once a week instead of watering every day.” 

George explained that he volunteers with DIGA because: “It’s very fulfilling and it’s fun for us [woodshop volunteers] to see people enjoy themselves. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that!” George humbly added, “I was lucky enough to recruit a lot of very talented woodworkers, and fortunately, they are much more talented than I am! These guys are artists. Everybody that comes to the shop enjoys themselves because we are all like-minded and we enjoy each other’s company.” 

George posing with handmade raised garden bed designed for DIGA.

When asked if he had any advice for people who may be interested in volunteering with DIGA, George replied with a laugh saying: “Well you know, I’m not sure what turns people’s cranks. I got involved because there was a very short article in the Vancouver Sun that talked about the society and what it did. At the time it was essentially a bunch of old farts that liked to make stuff for people with disabilities! I was close to retiring and thought that it sounded fun so I went to a meeting, learned what it was about, and I’ve been volunteering here for [10 years] now! I recommend that everyone come down to see if [DIGA] is a good fit for them!” George then ‘came clean’ about his reason for volunteering with DIGA joking, “It gives me something to do at night and it keeps me out of my wife’s hair!”

Thank you, George, for helping DIGA, Tetra, and the Disability Foundation over the past decade. We are so lucky to have you on our team. Your dedication, sense of humor, and excellent woodshop skills are sincerely appreciated. With your help, we are able to continue to let people with disabilities re-imagine what’s possible.

For more information about volunteering, please contact Sheryl Newman, Volunteer Management Coordinator at or by phone at (778) 945-8823.