Well, it is now 8 weeks since my foot surgery and is week 6 in the “boot of shame” as I not-so affectionally call it. I have realized two pretty significant things as a result of this experience; #1 being that I have absolutely no balance …honestly getting in & out of the shower requires acrobatics far exceeding my current skill set AND more importantly that I would be LOST without my family/friends who have helped during this time!
In fact, upon reflection, that last statement actually applies to the last 30 plus years of my life!
We get asked constantly WHY we are doing what we’re doing or what motivates us to reach out to the impoverished and struggling in our community. Personally I do it because I was, and still am at times, one of those impoverished struggling people. I understand it. I lived that life, received welfare, lived in subsidized housing, relied on the food bank, and watched my children go without. I can relate to their pain and desperation.
There is almost no greater stress for a parent than not knowing where the next meal is coming from.
I did not choose that path, it just unfolded that way; or more accurately spiraled into a whirlwind of unfortunate circumstances, coupled with some shitty decisions resulting in about twenty years of reliance on “the system.” I had experienced childhood trauma, ended up in a long-term abusive relationship and found myself at the end of that road as a single parent with four children. After living in a series of horrible apartments; including one in which we got broken into & robbed 4 times, we moved to a low rental in the city that was so awful I agreed to return to my abusive ex if he’d move us out of there. This lasted only until the next assault, and we fled back to Fredericton where my father allowed us to take over the family home. We spent 16 years in that house, it was old and freezing in the winter but was safe and in an excellent location. During that time I brought in approximately $1500.00-$1700.00 per month between assistance and family allowance or about $20,000.00 annually to provide for a family of 5. I took over the mortgage payments along with all the other bills associated with owning a home including water bills, property taxes and maintenance. The total for monthly bills ran, on average, about $1200.00 to $1500.00 dependent on the season leaving a maximum of $500.00 to feed, clothe and provide for 4 kids. Based on a 30 day month that is about $16.00 a day to fully provide for FOUR other people besides myself!
We were poor.
Each of my children were affected by this; Maegan has written about it in previous blogs and every time SHE is asked why we are operating Linking Lives she responds by saying “I know what it’s like to grow up poor and I don’t want to see others going without.” It hurts my heart every time she says it; because it’s true. Poverty deeply affects people, it leaves some of them hopeless; a fate worse than death in my opinion. In the worst of situations hope for a better day often carries one through; without it you lose the motivation to keep trying.
But wait…here’s the good part; we got through all of those years because we had HELP from people in our family and in our community. My children may not have had their father present but had their grandfather, they may not have had name brands but they had decent clothes, they may not have been able to go on that school trip but they had great birthday parties, Christmas mornings and went to the exhibition every fall BECAUSE we had help. This provided the continuity and the security my children needed to keep hoping for better days during the tough times; two of my children have since graduated from university, I acquired two degrees in the past 5 years and all of us are still moving forward because we never lost hope!
Why? BECAUSE WE HAD SUPPORT!!!
We want to see others have that same level of support in their lives as we know, with absolute certainty, that is what is required to make a difference. Not from one source but from many. Each of us has something we can offer and if we all gave just a little a great deal of suffering can be alleviated. It can be as simple as giving someone a drive, making a pot of soup or providing a few school supplies. We know this because we have seen it happen time and time again in the past 6 months. Mr. Anonymous no longer worries about eating today because someone made that pot of soup, a lady with a serious heart condition will get to her medical appointment in St. John this week because someone is providing that drive and several Mom’s sent their children back to school this year with confidence because of those school supplies!
People are coming together and reaching out to one another and it is making a difference in our community.
The more of you who become involved in this effort the greater the impact we will have in our community. We cannot do this alone and honestly we don’t want to; we want to create a movement and a mindset in Fredericton wherein we all subscribe to the basic tenants of community; love and compassion! A community where we practice unconditional acceptance and provide supports that are not contingent on meeting a specific criteria or fitting into a neatly organized demographic; just help people when you can and be kind.
It really is that simple. Maria 🙂
“The best part is when it transitions from being a community service to being a friendship” -Steve Kolter
Donations can be made by e-transfer or via our GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/linkinglivesinc