Happy 150th Canada 🍁

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Happy Birthday Canada #150

Hi folks!

Well it has been a very busy time for both Maegan & I lately as we return to work after being off for a year; more so for Maegan with the kiddies to contend with of course! We both feel confident though, that Linking Lives is now well established and will continue to grow while improving our city THANKS TO ALL OF YOU ❤ I want to assure everyone that despite new time constraints, we are as committed to creating a kinder, more inclusive, more equitable community today as we were when we began this journey of the heart. However it is fair to say the past two months have been a bit of a struggle and we are still making adjustments in order to provide the same level of community engagement. Two of our best & brightest (Coleen Matheson & Alexandra Curtis) have agreed to help with client meetings moving forward in order to reduce wait times for new intakes and we are currently looking for a few people that can do some drop-offs/pick-ups through the week which will ensure our families have their needs met in a timely fashion as well! If this is something you can help out with please contact us. You may also have noticed our social media presence has been reduced recently but not to worry, as we assume new routines and assign new roles that too will resume its’ normal frantic, often daily pace! Thank YOU for your patience, your continued support, your commitment to your community and for your BIG BEAUTIFUL HEARTS!

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Happy 150th Canada

Wowsers!!! 2017 will mark our 150th year as a nation and we, at Linking Lives Inc. think that is worth celebrating. Especially since we live in the BEST country in the world! No really just think about it for a moment; as Canadians we are the first to apologize, the last to quit, the quickest to lend a hand and the slowest to judge! We value our environment, our children, our diversity and EACH OTHER. Canadians are warm and welcoming by nature because we live our lives with open hearts AND open minds. So in light of our collective greatest we wanted to do something special in honor of this milestone in Canadian history!

Here’s what we came up with:

We are asking YOU ALL to join us in celebrating Canada’s 150th through creating a kinder community in 2017 by pledging to perform 150 Acts of Community Kindness! This can be done individually, as a group/family, with your sports team or you could even make it into a friendly challenge between co-workers and classmates. Acts of kindness can be as simple or elaborate as you like; you can stick to the tried and tested or be as unique as your imagination allows in coming up with 150 different kindnesses. On the blog home page you will find new links in headings to “150 Acts of Community of Community Kindness” which contains general information and a link to 150 kindness suggestions along with “150 Pledge Form” where you can officially register, find printable forms as well as the link to the Facebook group for sharing your kindnesses! Here are the two links: https://linkinglivesblog.wordpress.com/150-acts-of-community-kindness/ and https://linkinglivesblog.wordpress.com/150-pledge-form/

Throughout the year we will update you on numbers participating and types of acts being performed, then at year end we will host a reception for those who have officially registered and completed their 150 Acts of Community Kindness! There will be music, laughter, and some great surprises… You won’t want to miss out on this event!! Honestly, this is an effort EVERYONE, young/old, rich/poor, man/woman/child can participate in folks because holding a door for someone is free, complimenting a stranger requires no qualifications and sharing a smile has no age limits!

If Fredericton is to be known for something let it be our kind hearts, and generous natures. ❤

Maria

“Kindness is a gift EVERYONE can afford to give”-Anonymous

To donate to Linking Lives or to learn more about how YOU can get involved please contact us at linkinglives1by1@gmail.com

Thank~You 🙂

 

Broken but beautiful.

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This afternoon, with my chubby sweet faced baby, I walked into a local coffee shop (10 minutes late of course) to spend time getting to know a lovely middle aged woman. The two words that first come to mind when I think of her now: Warm. Genuine.

So we sat and we chatted about health issues using nursing terms we could both understand. It kind of mirrored many discussions I have in my everyday life as a member of the healthcare system. There was something that stood out about this woman though. She brought with her, to the coffee shop, an air of defeat. I could feel it. She told me her story through held back tears and apologized for asking for help and, actually, for needing it in the first place. Many people we encounter will do this. They will tell us how sorry they are for needing help. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions here (or as my husband would say “reading into things too much”).. but that single statement leaves me with a pit in my stomach and feelings of tremendous sadness and let me tell you why: It’s as though they feel so very undeserving of the help they’re seeking. But here is the thing.. they’re ALWAYS deserving.

And this particular lady?

SO. DESERVING.

She, like many, prefers not to be identified. I promise, though, that if you met her you would immediately enjoy her company. She’s one of those people. Honest. Friendly. Likeable.

Without sharing too much… I will summarize that she is struggling due to circumstances ridiculously beyond her control! She was an employed, hard-working woman when her body betrayed her and rendered her unable to work (at this time) due to pain, medications, and multiple medical appointments each week. She, as a result, is left financially (and emotionally) strained. Defeated!

And… potentially homeless if she is unable to come up with her rent money.

We can’t let that happen.

The good news is…. I happen to know a group of generous and compassionate people in our community who are always willing to support someone courageous enough to reach out for help. She is hopeful that she will soon return to work… but at this time she so badly needs us! PLEASE be a part of showing this broken but beautiful person that she is valued and we are here for her.

To donate to this cause specifically please etransfer to linkinglives1by1@gmail.com and identify her as the recipient of your generosity in the subject line.

I have other ideas, too!! Contact me for other suggestions from me how we can lift her up!

And, as always, that you for continuing to be there for one another!

-Maegan

Long time, no talk!

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Hi Folks; long time no talk!

With 2017 well underway some of you may have noticed less social media presence and response times becoming a little longer. I would like to assure you that: it is temporary, it is an adjustment phase and we will continue to work diligently towards our organizational goals and serving our community! As some of you may already know Maegan’s maternity leave has ended and she has returned to work while I am currently working, what seems like, the equivalent of a full time job trying to find a job, so we ask for your patience as we work through this period. We have made no secret of the fact that we, like many in our community, are basically one paycheck or in my case, one EI cheque away from needing the services of an organization like Linking Lives; which is what motivates and informs our work. For this reason in the next few months we will be looking for some volunteers to get more involved in direct client service, along with organizational, fundraising, awareness and administrative capacities; if you can help in one of these areas please contact us to discuss upcoming opportunities.

We LOVE our Volunteers!!

We held our 1st Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on January 15th and were so pleased that many of you were able to be there! We cannot thank Paul Porter, Velvet and all the Porter’s family enough for their kindness and generosity in hosting us for both this & the Christmas Kindness event! In the movies, men like Paul Porter wear capes and leap tall buildings; he is a true community hero! Big shout out to Mike Bravener as well for the wonderful entertainment. For the benefit of those not in attendance I wanted to share the recap of our first six months activities and accomplishments here and would like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who has helped us, in any way, to achieve them.

In the past six months, thanks to you & many others we have:

  • Hosted a community baby shower for a sweet lady who lacked a support network-great links were made & she spoke at the dinner expressing how that has positively impacted her life.
  • Held a community birthday party for a little boy whose Mom’s biggest concern was that if she held it, no one would come-Many of you attended & made that such a memorable day for Blake.
  • We have collected and distributed: furniture, diapers, wipes, clothing and other material resources to 40-60+ local families/individuals in need.
  • We have provided trucks & manpower to move several people into more adequate or more affordable housing.
  • Through your generosity we have been able to provide somewhere between $6000.00 & $8000.00+ in grocery cards & groceries.
  • As we believe strongly that collaborations between organizations are key to poverty reduction we have partnered with or assisted clients of, several other agencies such as: Gignoo Transition House, Ability NB, NB Association of Community Living, Liberty Lane, along with the folks from the SUN committee, Downtown Outreach, and Mental Health & Addiction among others!
  • We reached out to & met with many of our local representatives, at all levels of government and can happily report all were receptive and supportive of our efforts, with both the Mayor, Mike O’Brien & F’ton South MLA, David Coon along with their wives serving at our Christmas Kindness event!
  • Our board secretary, Robyn Witherell organized, acquired sponsorship for, and participated in, our first 5K Fundraising Run. We hope this will become an annual event. Phillip Witherell negotiated sponsorship with Peterbilt Atlantic for the race & had Linking Lives hats designed for the participants.
  • Tyler Witherell, our treasurer, hosted a golf tournament with funds raised being matched by Peterbilt Atlantic as well.
  • Our volunteers have provided many hours of labor assisting those struggling with health issues to maintain their yards, and homes, mowing lawns, making freezer meals for our friend, Mr. Anonymous, holding hands, transporting people to medical appointments, the food bank, Social Development and Post-Secondary Training & Development; to name a few.
  • Posts for funds to keep families power on or to purchase wood for others to stay warm are responded to almost immediately and in virtually every case we were able to secure the funds needed within 24-36 hours!
  • Our back to school campaign was a huge success with many of you participating resulting in several children starting off in September properly equipped to meet the challenge of a new school year!
  • Linking Lives volunteer teams assisted with two craft shows in the fall hosted by Sandra Deveau/Lemon Balm Lane; one that raised $8000.00 for Women in Transition with the 2nd raising $11,000.00 for Wounded Warriors!
  • We also had two teams participate in the Harvest Jazz Festival garnering almost $700 in honorariums.
  • There have been dances, poker tournaments, contests, giveaways, raffles, wrapping parties, donation drives, oodles of pick-ups & deliveries and endless posts requesting help all in order to raise both funds & awareness. All successful!
  • We’ve helped enhance the quality of life for others through simple acts of kindness like decorating their home for Halloween & Christmas and baking cookies with them; things they can no longer do without assistance!
  • We have linked many families to services, & support networks; after meeting with each and every one of them personally! For example there have been “links” to: respite care, chiropractic services, transportation, material resources, emotional support, counselling & legal advice!
  • You even managed to house a family of cats in response to a post we put out thinking no one was going to take that on!
  • In November we began working on our two Christmas campaigns; the Community Kindness Dinner at Porters & the Community Hero sponsorship program!
  • Our Christmas kindness dinner provided 130 people with a delicious dinner, gifts and a reason to believe their community supports them too! You gave them one of the greatest gifts of all; HOPE!
  • Through our Community Heroes Christmas sponsorship program over 55 families & individuals woke up December 25 with joy in their hearts!
  • Both of these campaigns were nothing short of amazing and the feedback we got from those we work on behalf of was heartwarming!

“Our sponsor just left & I am so overwhelmed. They just made my girls Christmas. I cannot thank you enough. I’ve been crying since they left, Thank you for blessing me and my family.”

“It truly was a night full of the Christmas spirit. I feel honored to have been a part of such a magical evening. Mom, my sister and I felt the abundance of true joy.”

“Giving is love in motion. Thank you once again Linking Lives Inc. & Porters Diner for such an amazing event. It was so nice meeting everyone. The world needs more love, so let’s spread that on everything that we do!”

Let me remind you all, once again that, that was all accomplished in six short months so just imagine what we will be able to report at the end of 2017 with YOUR continued support!

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

Now on to the next great campaign which will tie into Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. We have applied for, and received permission to, host a Canada 150 event and can now utilize the government graphics/materials associated with this national milestone. In the next week or so we will launch our 150 Acts of Community Kindness campaign, in honor of Canada’s birthday, where we will be asking you all to pledge to perform 150 different kindnesses during 2017. On our blog home page you will soon be able to find a link to a registration page, Facebook group, and printable forms for participation in the event. We will also be posting a list of 150 different ways to be kind, when completed; currently at 122 so keep posting your suggestions to our Facebook! Once you have registered you will be added to the Facebook group (150 Acts of Community Kindness) where you can connect with others participating, and share your stories, pictures and videos with us throughout the year. At year end we will host a reception where we can share these and celebrate having created a kinder community together. The online materials are ready to launch and we are just discussing perhaps building in some prizes or awards for categories such as; most unique act, youngest person to complete 150 acts, largest group to work together, or first to complete 150 acts for example. What do YOU think? Would this make YOU more likely to get involved? Let us know please! This is a campaign EVERYONE can be a part of and success depends directly on YOUR involvement, so we hope everyone will join in! Challenge your family, friends, co-workers, and classmates to get involved; make it into a friendly competition. We would love to see our Mayor and other local representatives get involved by challenging their counterparts in other areas of NB to see which community can inspire the highest level of participation! Although I would bet the farm it would be Fredericton; given my experience in community service here. 🙂

-Maria

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Make sure to keep checking our Facebook page for the launch of this campaign in the next week or so and please continue to share our posts! THANK YOU

If you would like more information on how to donate to Linking Lives or about how YOU can get involved please contact us at: linkinglives1by1@gmail.com or via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/linkinglives1by1/

Be more awesome than last year.

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Welcome to 2017! I, for one, can’t wrap my head around where exactly 2016 went BUT… I will embrace this New Year and have much confidence that it will be a GREAT year for our community and for Linking Lives.

Of course with the start of a New Year comes much reflection of the year that has ended. We’ve done a lot of reflecting! Over the last few weeks we have discussed at length all of the amazing things that we’ve seen happening around us. Being a part of this organization has placed us in a position in which we are able to see the best in people and the best in our community as a whole. We’re overwhelmed and amazed at the reception we’ve received from all of you and at the genuine desire and commitment in those around us to help their neighbors and friends. We’ve (please know that anytime I say ‘we’ I mean all of you as well!) distributed thousands of dollars in groceries, formulated plans for countless individuals and families to work towards brighter and better futures, moved many to safer more adequate and affordable housing, transported the stranded, hosted many successful fundraisers, helped to warm homes and hearts, been a safe place to fall, given Mama’s the resources they needed to feed and love their sweet babies, made so many life-changing connections with new friends, clothed children for back to school, fed warm meals to those who needed it most, played Santa for over FIFTY families and managed to grow Linking Lives from infancy to a wobbly toddler stage! …Holy run on sentence… sorry but it was too exciting to stop to breath!

We’ve made no secret of the fact that this organization was launched with a somewhat limited vision as to what it may transform into 6 months down the road, a year down the road. We can now say we’re feeling steady on our feet and narrowing in on exactly what we want to represent and achieve as an organization and how we plan to meet those goals. We thank all of you for helping to shape us, guide us and show us what it is the community most needs. We thank you for your trust in us to provide services to a vulnerable sect and for turning to us as a place for YOU to give back and support your community members. You continue to motivate and encourage us to keep growing and serving and working towards our vision of a caring, supportive, transparent and “no person left behind” community.

And suddenly that vision doesn’t seem so far from our grasp!

We have seen such a real and tangible movement towards kindness in our community and perhaps that is the one thing that has made us the most hopeful moving into 2017. We are contacted as regularly by people who want to help as we are by those in need. You continue to come to us with new ideas, campaigns and suggestions for greater impact. We are seeing a gentler and more understanding approach to poverty and those who live in it. Every day I’m seeing posts on social media from people “looking to give to a family in need” as opposed to making a few extra dollars selling something. We were moved to tears by the consideration and genuine care demonstrated by our “heroes” that participated in our Christmas sponsorship program. Many of them shopped for these families as if they were their own. They met them to deliver personally and did so with such authentic enthusiasm. Life changing stuff!

Following all of these experiences how could we NOT feel anticipative of a New Year that will shine very brightly!

Speaking of that! Along with the thoughtful reflection of the year passed comes planning for the year ahead. This year starts off with my return to work. Up until this point I have been endlessly available to serve the needs of the organization and of those who reach out to us (kind of.. you know the 3 kids thing can be a little bit of a barrier at times!) and would be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a bit apprehensive of how I will manage to juggle the responsibilities that lay before me. I know that we are entering into a period of adjustment and, apprehension aside; I don’t feel negatively or discouraged about that. I am as committed as ever and will continue to work passionately and unreservedly towards poverty reduction and change in our community (I just might do it with a little more caffeine and a little less sleep). We’re in the process of brainstorming and formulating a plan for the year that continues to allow us to help on a personal and intimate level… but perhaps on a bit of a larger scale. We of course will continue to need all of your love and support to accomplish this and hope that you will also feed us full of ideas, direction and continue to be an invaluable part of this growth.

Stay with us— We’ve got this!!

2017 is going to be big!!

                                                                                                                      -Maegan

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”. -Chinese Proverb

Christmas, Kindness & Community

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Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more……

Wow, wow wow!!! We have had a pretty exciting couple of weeks and have watched our community come together in a way that truly inspires us, motivates us and makes us feel so grateful to share in this with all of YOU! So I want to update you on what’s been happening and introduce you to a few more amazing people who, have truly given with their hearts; with no strings attached, no criteria to meet or no forms to fill out.

Just like all of YOU have been doing since we launched Linking Lives.

To begin, we want to give a big shout out to ALL of our local politicians; who we view as neighbors, partners and integral members of our community. Each and every one of them, who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with two crazy women, on a mission to unite our community and reduce poverty, were gracious, and supportive of our efforts. We often stress over how we will be perceived before these meetings, after all who are we? A 52-year-old woman, still trying to claw her way out of poverty, on EI and looking for work just like many of those we serve & a 28-year-old mom of three young children, on maternity leave, who sometimes struggles to make ends meet- just like those we provide grocery cards to! But…They DID listen to us, they cared about the issues we brought forward and we genuinely believe they will ALL work diligently to help those they were elected to serve, when called upon to do so. So hats off to them all!

Next let’s talk Christmas; ‘tis the season!

After a slight bump in the road we began collaborating with some fantastic, community minded, and big-hearted partners to bring some Christmas Kindness to those who need it most in our community. Our 2016 community heroes’ sponsorship program has received an overwhelming response from YOU, the community, and because of your kindness and generosity at least 50 families will wake up on December 25th with joy in their hearts and the knowledge that someone in their community cared about THEM! That’s a beautiful thing folks; our hearts are full! Fredericton really is so full of giving people and since day #1 that has impacted us in ways that are beautifully indescribable! We have been busy sending personalized mini family bios to each community hero allowing them to connect to their chosen family in a more meaningful way. Maegan has worked tirelessly in order to match people in such a way so as to highlight their shared commonalities rather than their differences. Your feedback in response to these has been heartwarming and this has truly been an extraordinary experience for us both. Honestly, it is difficult to adequately relate to you, in words, how grateful we are to you all for believing in us, for getting involved, for caring, and for giving so readily every time we ask!

Several local businesses are also sponsoring families (who will ALL be acknowledged in future blogs/posts) but I would like to highlight just a few here starting with Go-Go Gymnastics, YOU guys blew us away with your offer to sponsor 11-15 families; how amazing is that? East Coast Chiropractic; who we did a promotional video with that you should check out on Facebook if you need a laugh today (I look like the not-so friendly giant in it) is not only sponsoring a family, but also giving back to those who donate to that endeavor through an awesome rewards program. Escape Logic Games contacted US offering to donate a gift certificate; a nice twist considering we normally do the asking! Then there’s Yards Apart Landscape & Design, (Alex Matheson) a brand spanking new business owner in Fredericton who has generously donated $1000 to purchase gift cards for our event at Porter’s Diner; without being solicited for it I might add; just wonderful right!?! As for Paul Porter, Velvet and Porter’s Diner; wow…just WOW!  So here’s the deal: after a happenstance meeting (the best kind) with Paul, he unexpectedly offered to provide a venue & Christmas dinner to those we work with stating, quite matter-of-factly: “I have 130 seats in my diner, if you can fill it I will feed them all.” WHAT!! Well we took that as a direct challenge Paul and can happily report we have 126 confirmed attendees as of today! When we met with Paul and his restaurant manager Velvet to discuss the event we were so impressed by their big hearts, their generosity and their humility; yes tears were involved. We discovered Paul & his staff have been involved in many charity efforts over the years including fundraisers as well as random acts of kindness, all behind the scenes, and asking nothing in return. They are the real deal friends; good, kind compassionate people who give selflessly. But wait…it doesn’t end there! Paul asked if all of our volunteers would be able to attend the December 11th event but as we have upwards of 130 now, it just isn’t possible so he then offered to host a Volunteer Appreciation dinner now booked for January 15th. AMAZING. On top of ALL of that kindness he also offered us some radio ad space to promote our organization and your good works! Unbelievable….we were speechless; a condition neither of us experiences often. Porter’s does community right! Last but certainly not least in our books, meet Scott MacKay; Sound for Change’s founder and just an all-around great guy who, among other things, hosts fundraisers with talented local musicians to raise money for various community causes. He is partnering with us on the Porter’s Christmas Kindness event and will be there providing live Christmas music for everyone’s enjoyment. Sound for Change is also contributing resources to this event and will sponsor their own family as well! Sound for Change ROCKS…literally! 😉

 We will never be able to adequately thank YOU ALL for supporting these campaigns and indeed your community; you are our HEROES!

                                                  “It’s a better place since you came along”

Finally, Linking Lives Inc. does not just involve Maegan, Tyler, Robyn and I as there are so many others that share in this journey of the heart with us. Our volunteers are the best, seriously, THE BEST and while I can’t possibly name you all I would like to thank you each for the vital contribution YOU make, for always showing up, sharing our posts, and for your efforts to help unite our community and reduce poverty. To you, our community, who support our efforts, donate to our cause, or promote community kindness in any way: THANK YOU! None of this would be possible without each and every one of YOU! Change is happening because our community is coming together and we are so honored to play a small role in that movement. We feel the shift, witness the many selfless acts occurring daily in our community, and believe strongly that with sustained efforts Fredericton WILL become that shining beacon of hope that will prove to others that poverty reduction is possible when we support each other and work together!

Upcoming Events:

Community Heroes you are all invited to a reception on December 18th (12pm – 4pm) at 133 King Street to share some holiday cheer, hot chocolate & cookies with us while receiving the address for your chosen family before heading out to deliver the goodies. If you opted for us to deliver you can drop off your hamper at this location or call us for pick-up. We are trying to get all the bios/wish lists out to you all as quickly as possible and promise to have this done no later than December 1st! Thanks

Christmas Kindness at Porter’s Diner (by invitation only), December 11th (6pm)- For our special guests; please let us know if you will need transportation to the event as we have a number of volunteers who will be providing this service to those who need it. To our volunteers who are decorating-we will need to be at Porter’s for 4pm and those providing transportation will be assigned a family and provided with their address soon! We are still in need of unwrapped “Santa” gifts (children ages 6 months to 18 years), gift cards, wrapping paper, bows and name tags so if you would like to contribute to this please contact us and help us make this a memorable night for all! Thanks

Maria ❤

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”-Lao Tzu

To donate or learn how you can get involved please contact us at linkinglives1by1@gmail.com or through our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/linkinglives1by1/

 

 

Let’s do Christmas with a little kindness!

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Christmas is, without question, my absolute favorite time of year. Perhaps it’s simply routed in the fact that it is a time of year in which you see the best in people. Kindness, generosity and compassion seem to soar and people show such love to one another. As blinded as I may be by the beautiful lights that shine throughout the season I do remain painfully aware of the fact that it can also be the most stressful and disheartening time for many individuals and families in our community.

The flipside of that happiness high I ride from November through to the 25th of December is the pain I feel in knowing children will be waking up on a morning that so many of us look forward to all year… without experiencing the magic of Christmas. While I’m pacing my living room at 3am admiring the lights and the gifts and basking in my excitement at the thought of my children’s sweet sweet faces when they see this sight… parents will be going to bed with feelings of inadequacy and deep sadness as the reality of their unfortunate Christmas morning sets in.

Bittersweet. And so unfair.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was raised in poverty. With thanks to a proactive, shameless Mother who begged and borrowed to provide for us I was fortunate enough to have been able to create some amazing holiday memories growing up! But it was not without community support and sponsorship. Of course some years we experienced more hardship than others but, as a rule, the community was always kind to us. I do remember the stress surrounding the holidays, as well. And I do have such vivid memories of the guilt I felt as a child when not a single gift under the tree had a tag attached that read “Mom”.

Poverty. Damn poverty. Despite a hard working Mother’s best efforts it still found a way to tarnish those precious memories.

We can change that for other families, though! And I’d love to tell you how.

We are running two campaigns over the coming weeks that will provide you with the opportunity to get involved in giving back this Christmas in various ways.

“Community Heroes”: We would love to see you, the offices you work in, your friends and/or family become a Hero to a family or individual over the Christmas season! In doing so you would be committing to shining the most radiant light on the holidays for a family in need. The way this program works is that individuals, businesses or other groups of people will sponsor a family by providing them with a holiday hamper. This hamper will contain gifts for each of the family members and food if you so choose. We will provide you with a “family biography”, which will allow you to truly connect with the families changed by your kindness. Along with this you’re granted the opportunity to shop for and deliver to the families yourself! Sponsoring families is one thing, treating them as family by personalizing gifts and meeting them face to face makes people feel valued in a way that is true magic.

“Campaign for Christmas Kindness”: We are partnering with Porter’s Diner and local non-profit Sound for Change to host a number of individuals and families in need for a turkey dinner and the opportunity to sprinkle their holidays with a little (a lot of!) kindness! I am going to provide somewhat limited information on this particular event publicly, as we wish for it to remain a surprise for those invited, but would love to hear from you if you’d like further information on how to help make this event a HUGE success! If you’d like to nominate a family that is struggling for this event PLEASE provide us with their information.

Yes it’s true that for so many of us Christmas is a special time of year enriched with family, love and equal parts giving and receiving. But for many it is another raw reminder that their community has left them behind. It doesn’t have to be this way. I hope we can join together, as the big-hearted community I know we are, and honor the belief that we ALL deserve the experience of a truly magical holiday season.

To become one of our community heroes or for more information visit https://www.facebook.com/linkinglives1by1/  or contact us via email at linkinglives1by1@gmail.com or telephone at 261-3992.

To make a monetary donation and truly make a difference etransfer to linkinglives1by1@gmail.com using the headline Christmas.

   -Maegan

Halloween Birthdays & Blessings

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Hello friends!

I trust everyone had a fabulous Halloween and like me, you are currently riding a sugar high through your week…but let’s not tell my friend and anti-sugar guru Sarah Roberts that or I will get my knuckles rapped! Anyone who knows me well, knows I ABSOLUTELY love Halloween; it’s my favorite holiday and my birthday but more than that I love the freedom of personal expression it provides plus, if I am being completely honest, I also really like free candy! Even at 50 (ish) I still love to dress up and go trick or treating with my grandchildren and it is always the highlight of my year but this year was made even more special by an amazing young woman named Cassandra. We met Cassandra a few months ago via a collaborative effort with Ability NB and have been fortunate enough to get to know her; as a person not as a client! Initially we were just asked to assist with a move but the more we got to know Cassandra the more WE WANTED to do. I would like to introduce you to her this week, explain how she has impacted our lives and tell you how she helped make this Halloween/Birthday one of the best in recent memory.

First let’s get a little background out of the way-Cassandra was at TreeGo one day a few years back when she was only 22 years old and suffered a debilitating stroke that has left her with long-term physical disabilities. Every day is a struggle for her, and every day she fights to reclaim her life. Yes she has mobility issues and Yes she has many challenges ahead of her BUT she also has an amazing spirit, a strong will and a loving, joyful heart. Every day she continues to get up, show up and pushes herself to achieve her recovery goals. She is beautiful, smart and so funny! Fiercely independent and artistically gifted, she still lives her life to the fullest of her capabilities. Cassandra asks us for very little; the occasional drive, help with hanging pictures or my personal favorite-decorating for Halloween. Never financial or material resources but simple everyday things that our friends, neighbors or families would help us with. The kind of stuff that not only enriches or improves her quality of life but keeps her connected to her community as well. I know I say it a lot but I am going to say it again; one of the real blessings of Linking Lives for us is that we get the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who greatly influence our work and just make us better people. Cassandra is one of those people.

So here’s the story….

A few days before Halloween Maegan called me so excited she could hardly get the words out but between screaming children, barking dogs and my awesome Mom-speak deciphering skills I was able to determine this was as a result of a phone call from Cassandra. After several minutes of back and forth I happily discovered the cause for all the excitement; Cassandra wanted to go trick or treating with us!! Now, this might not seem like that big of a deal to you but for us it was HUGE. This touched us deeply because, from our perspective, it meant we were no longer just “service providers” in her eyes; we were her friends. People she trusted and felt comfortable enough with to invite herself along on a family outing. Oh my heart….I literally was overcome with emotion. She told Maegan that she loved Halloween and hadn’t been able to get out to enjoy it in a while, then added, “with my costume on no one will know how old I am so I can get some candy too”- which we found hilarious! We met at her place Halloween night and as you can see from the picture her costume was amazing, then just as we were leaving Cassandra sets the tone for the evening by stating “let’s go get some candy, double if they have stairs.” See what I mean…funny!! She has a way about her that puts you at ease and that allows you to know HER and not her disability. Self-disclosure; I have always been slightly awkward  in dealing with seniors or those with obvious disabilities, which I know sounds terrible but truthfully it stems only from my fear of doing something wrong or the risk of offending that person in some way unwittingly. Maegan says no matter the condition, or age I just holler at people when I encounter that dynamic which frequently applies to my approach in attempting to communicate with anyone whose first language is not English as well…I am working on it, but I digress. The point is this has never been the case with Cassandra and because of who she is, I have grown as a person in this regard and will be better with those interactions in the future. Cassandra has taught me that the differences between us are minute and negligible and her openness in discussing her story was truly a gift.

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“This definitely happened last night because of Linking Lives. I definitely want to thank Rebecca Graham for steering me in their direction! If I was the way used to be I definitely wouldn’t have gone out. That’s one of the things that disappointed me about growing up no more trick or treating; but I went out last night! It was mainly for the candy! I said if they have stairs then double the Candy LOL
I already have my costume picked out for next year, I’ll give you a hint, it has to do with Game of Thrones!”-Cassandra

So I ask you; who is helping who here?

That is what the potential gain is of volunteer work is friends; it provides us with the chance for untold personal growth, joy, contentment, gratitude and an abundant source of love. My kids say (often) that I am getting sappy in my old age but I don’t agree, I actually think this recent influx of sentimentality correlates directly to the many amazing experiences we have had thus far with Linking Lives. The people we have met, the relationships we have developed and the successes we have achieved have confirmed what I have always so desperately wanted to believe; people are basically good, kind and compassionate and nowhere more so than in Fredericton NB!! We have never posted a need that went unmet or held an event that went unattended. Every single time we ask you for help you respond with such generosity that we often feel overwhelmed by it and our volunteer team is growing weekly as more and more of you get involved. How great is that?? Seriously we CAN DO THIS; we can regain our sense of community and “make Fredericton great again” (sorry I had to do it)

Coming Up Next…

Over the next 6 weeks or so we will be focusing on our Christmas Sponsorship Campaign; this year we will be partnering with Scott McKay and the great folks at Sound for Change in order to reach out to as many families as possible! So again we need your help Fredericton; we are looking for volunteers to assist with organizing, pick-up and delivery drivers, offices/work places willing to run fundraisers on our behalf and of course, donations (gifts, food, grocery cards, or decorations for example). We would love to hear from you with some suggestions on fun, innovative holiday themed fundraising ideas; what would you like to attend or be part of? What can we do to motivate you to get involved? I can promise you that if you attend one event, volunteer for one project or meet a few of the people we are working with you will be hooked!! There is no feeling like it ❤ Maria

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.”-Coretta Scott King

To get involved with Linking Lives and YOUR community please contact us at linkinglives1by1@gmail.com or via our Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/linkinglives1by1/

Donations can be made by etransfer to linkinglives1by1@gmail.com or via our GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/linkinglivesinc