There is a great deal of kindness in our world, and it is shining bright here in the North Okanagan! One such act is the way the community is rallying behind the victims of the fires in Alberta with donations of dollars and necessities of life, through Cidel Moving and from individuals.
The fires of Fort McMurray have been horrible, as any fire is. Watching the films, my jaw dropped at the thought of what was happening in that moment and what the aftermath would be.
I lived there for five years as a young woman and my preferred neighbourhood was Waterways. It was the old part of the town, and had these funky old houses that we loved. One of my homes was a heritage home, a pink cottage that I called the old lady house because of the former owner and her love for peonies. She was probably the age I am now. That home is gone now, 90 per cent of that area burnt. So when I imagine the people walking or driving those streets to look at the damage I am thinking of when I used to stroll that same neighbourhood.
We had a fire once in the first year we lived in Vernon and it was awful. It wasn’t our home, it was the business. In the damage there were many personal items that were irreplaceable. Losing a home would be very sad. It isn’t the stuff that we may have fretted over like getting the right couch, bedroom set, big-screen TV. It is those boxes filled with photos, and old letters or homemade cards that we will miss. It is our personal safety that is most important.
The community will rebuild and many will heed the call of the north to help with re-constructing neighbourhoods and businesses, but that loss will be there forever.
Vernon’s generosity and collaborative spirit are some of the reasons that I love living here and am so proud of this community. I attended the 100 Women who Care event the other evening and within 30 minutes the Family Resource Centre of Vernon will get a donation somewhere around $8,000. Because in Vernon it is 160 women who care, not 100.
Now there is a new group being formed, “100 men who give a damn” (there is a website). I love this! Men and women raising funds — a bit of one-upmanship perhaps. Bring it on, I say when it comes to supporting the smaller organizations in our community who have to fundraise to provide services and this is done not with a fund development team or designated staff person but by the board of directors, executive directors or coordinators who are busy wearing many hats and need our assistance.
Many individuals provide support through writing checks, attending fundraisers, helping their neighbours or friends with a meal when they need it, cutting lawns, shovelling sidewalks, driving to appointments or a visit when someone is sick or recovering from surgery. Carpooling, taking care of someone’s children, painting, etc. There are many ways to be helpful and kind. I am sure we could Google acts of kindness and generate ideas.
Acts of kindness can start early and our children see us as role models and will follow suit. Bring them along when you can if you volunteer for events, have them help the neighbours when they can and not for dollars, because we’re neighbours.
Our local businesses must be bombarded with requests for cash, goods and services. They give a tremendous amount. Our local Tim Hortons would be one of those services that have requests on a daily basis and the Currie family is very generous. They have been very supportive to a youth program — Courage to Change — that brought together the collaborative efforts of other unsung heroes, the Child and Youth Mental Health Services with Ministry of Children and Family Development; Substance Use services of Interior Health; the Friendship Centre and CMHA. These groups were stronger together supporting this group of young people and have made a real difference. Working together, businesses and community services can create strong partnerships that are very meaningful with lasting impact.
Sometimes when I listen to the news and am bombarded with murders, sexual assaults, robberies, down right meanness I need to turn it off. Then I read about what goes on here in our pocket of this world and I am hopeful that there are more acts of kindness, and there is goodness and decency in our fellow humans. That it this goodness that will rule the day and it is in abundance.
Thank you, Vernon citizens, for reinforcing my believe in the human race as one of love, hope and community.
Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.