A Bourget husband and wife who both work in primary health care are looking forward to a new backyard for their home this summer, after winning a $5,000 garden makeover from Landscape Ontario.

Élise Da Ponti, who works as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of the Ottawa General Hospital, and her husband Marc-André, a paramedic with the City of Ottawa, just moved into their new home east of Bourget last October, along with their four-year-old son Noah. Speaking with The Review last week after just coming off a 12-hour night shift in the Ottawa General ICU, Élise said the surprise of a backyard makeover could not have come at a better time for the family.

“We just finished building a brand new home, so this was a pretty amazing prize to get,” Élise explained. “We haven’t done any landscaping yet, so around the house it’s kind of a blank slate.”

Élise has been providing care for eight years in the ICU unit at the Ottawa hospital. Prior to that, she worked as a nurse in Switzerland for a year and in an emergency department back in Canada for several years.

Marc-André also works 12-hour shifts on the front lines as a paramedic, so it is often a juggling act to ensure care for Noah, manage work, and most of all, ensure they are both fully safe to come home after work. The couple lived with Élise’s parents in Ottawa for two years prior to moving into their new home, which helped immensely in caring for Noah.

“We’ve been doing our best to change and shower at work, then come home,” Elise said. “At one point we had a discussion that if I’m going to be working in the ICU and you’re going to be on the road as a paramedic, should we be coming back home to my parents and our son?”

“It took a lot of time to find a good middle. I’m not sure we could have done it without the help of my parents.”

Landscape Ontario donated $5,000 garden makeovers to 10 front-line heroes across the province, all of whom will receive their new landscaping this summer. The full list of winners can be found at www.landscapeontario.com/hero.

The Da Pontis were nominated for the contest by Élise’s mother, who is also an ICU nurse at the Ottawa General Hospital and works side-by-side with her daughter.

“We were actually both working the day she got the call – it was pretty cool,” Élise said.

The contest win provided a boost not only to the Da Pontis, but to their coworkers, who Elise said have been buoyed throughout the past year by incredible support from the community.

“Every shift we been getting donations of food and all kinds of services from local restaurants – it’s just an amazing thing. As much as there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for this virus, we’re very grateful for everybody and it’s nice to see people appreciate the work we do.”

The Da Ponti’s garden project is being coordinated by Living Green Landscaping in Ottawa https://www.livinggreenlandscaping.ca/. Company president Lindsey Ross, who has been working with the couple on the design, said the plan is to do the project in July, which will allow time to organize volunteer installers and for contributing manufacturers to arrange product donations. The overall project will be the result of many donations of material and time by multiple Landscape Ontario member companies, Ross said.

Marc-André and Élise Da Ponti with their son Noah in the bare backyard of their new home in Bourget. The couple will be getting a $5,000 garden makeover this coming July, after being one of 10 front-line heroes across the province named as winners of a contest organized by Landscape Ontario. Marc-André is a paramedic with the City of Ottawa, while Élise works as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of the Ottawa General Hospital.