Connie Goodine lets a balloon go in memory of the many dear friends at the Cammy LaFleur Street Nurse Outreach Program who have died.

Connie Goodine lets a balloon go in memory of the many dear friends at the Cammy LaFleur Street Nurse Outreach Program who have died.

Acceptance and respect promoted

While some may see a drunken bum, a doped-out addict or a grubby beggar, such harsh labels never crossed Cammy LaFleur’s mind.

While some may see a drunken bum, a doped-out addict or a grubby beggar, such harsh labels never crossed Cammy LaFleur’s mind.

She saw people.

People who, despite their circumstances, are no different than you or I.

People who deserve respect.

People who just happened to need a little help.

“Cammy felt very strongly that everybody deserves to be treated fairly, everybody deserves to be treated with respect,” said Jan Shumay, director of operations and services at the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society.

“Cammy was just really about being accepting and non judgemental. Everybody has a place and everybody has a story.”

As the street nurse for the Vernon Street Clinic, LaFleur was instrumental in infecting others with that same attitude.

“She emanated what everyone who came to work here should have in place.”

And her caring legacy lives on through the appropriately named Cammy LaFleur Street Nurse Outreach Program (which is run through NOYFSS). The program was renamed after LaFleur died from cystic fibrosis in 2002 at just 35-years-old.

Since then hundreds of people have found a place of support, assistance and acceptance at the program.

“They just encourage you and feed you and love you,” said one former client who was a practising heroin and crack addict for 25 years, but has since been clean for four years. “It’s a family that you’ve lost years ago because of your addiction.”

Unfortunately, some of those who have walked through the doors of the program have also lost their lives to their addiction or disease.

So carrying out the true spirit of LaFleur, each and every one of the more than 40 lives lost in the past 10 years were honoured with a special dedication ceremony recently.

Each of the names were etched on a quilt, which was blessed by Chawow Eaglefeather while upwards of 50 clients, past and present volunteers and staff at the program watched.

Best Friends Quilters Carol Rispin, Elaine Inverarity and Jan Aarsen made the quilt as a thanks to all the great work the Cammy LaFleur program does in the community.

“It was moving, overwhelming that there are so many names on it already,” said Inverarity.

Balloons were also released in memory of all those who have passed on.

Names were scribbled on some of the balloons and tears fell to the ground as they were let go into the sky.

Watching her balloon, which read “André I love u,” drift away, Connie Goodine said her goodbyes to her dear friend whose life was cut short almost a year ago.

“He (André) was a good soul. He touched a lot of people,” said Goodine.

The Cammy Cammy LaFleur Street Nurse Outreach Program assisted 2,776 people from April to December.

Anyone wishing to help can donate hygiene products, such as shampoos, conditioners, toothbrushes, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products, to NOYFSS (3100 – 32nd Avenue, across from the post office).