We have had a very busy and pretty exciting week; we had our 1st meeting with some of the local powers that be, we got to share in some major success with a client dear to our hearts, followed Friday by our first benefit dance which was a blast! So we have lots to share with you this week.
Clients(for lack of a better word)
A quick note about those we work and full disclosure; WE HATE THAT WORD! That is not how we FEEL about those we work with. They are not just “clients” or “case files” to us, they are our neighbors and fellow community members whom we more often than not develop real friendships with. Maegan and I personally meet with each and every individual Linking Lives works with, we go to their homes, we meet their children/families, and we take the time to really get to know them. We have both developed deeply meaningful friendships with a few people we work with that have in turn, made US better people! That’s our pay off friends. We frequently get asked why we would do this work with no financial remuneration; the truth is we do it because we get to meet amazing people, help ease their burdens, and serve our community! This work feeds our souls, fills our hearts and helps us grow. That’s why. To each of you that we have been privileged enough to work with thus far on this journey, THANK YOU!! You continue to teach, motivate and inspire us ❤
Politicians & Poverty
On Wednesday morning we had the opportunity to meet with our new Mayor, Mike O’Brien, and Fredericton’s MP, Matt DeCourcey along with his Chief of Staff, Robb Baird thanks to Dr. W Barry Miller who arranged this on our behalf. We consider our organization a grassroots effort and neither of us has much political savvy so we had no idea what to expect walking into to City Hall. I can honestly say we were both, surprised and encouraged by the reception we received as well as the obvious dedication to eradicating poverty in our community displayed by all parties in attendance. These men were well-informed, genuinely open to dialogue, and compassionate in discussing poverty and those affected by it. They ACTUALLY listened to US, asked questions, offered sage advice and thanked us for our efforts. As I tend to be the more cynical of the two, my expectations going in were low; I must now concede this meeting far exceeded those expectations! As a result of this exchange I am so much more hopeful moving forward and feel that we CAN, perhaps, count on those currently in power to help us build a stronger, healthier more equitable community! In fact the following day I reached out to some of these officials plus the offices of Minister Stephen Horsman & Fredericton south MLA, David Coon regarding a crisis situation with a lady we have been working with and I am proud to report that several got back to me the same day offering assistance! Taeyon, from David Coon’s office, called me almost immediately then met with our client the same day and David Coon personally responded to our request for help. Minister Horseman’s office also responded the same day and offered to assist as well! We are so very grateful for their promptness in responding to the needs of the people they were elected to serve and we look forward to developing ongoing relationships with the local “powers that be” in the future.
People & Community
I want to introduce you to the lady we contacted those officials on behalf of; her name is Rachel and she has graciously consented to the following disclosures with the hope her story will help others. Thank-you for your courage Rachel!
My first interaction with Rachel was a happenstance meeting on the steps of my father’s apartment building some 7 or 8 years ago. She was still gripped by the darkness of addiction then and was sitting on Dad’s step crying; my heart hurt and I immediately felt her pain. I asked if she was ok; a stupid question in hindsight as it was obvious she was not. She openly and honestly told me her story. Addiction had consumed her life for years, she had lost everything, been horribly abused, shot, poisoned and given up on. We talked about a better life, her children and where she could go for help. It would be another year or two before she showed up at the transition house where I worked seeking safety. I will be forever grateful that she did. Rachel has worked harder than anyone I have ever known to change her life, she has now been sober for five years and is an amazing mother to her children as well as a fantastic role model for others struggling with addiction issues. Last week Rachel was asked to give a speech at UNB for a Mindscapes event on Mental Health/Addiction, was featured on CBC for her success in conquering addiction through art and was asked to function as a peer-support worker within Addictions services. We are immensely proud of her and all she has accomplished!
Meanwhile back at the ranch…..
The reality is- she is still living in poverty in an apartment that is too small to accommodate her family size and just never seems to catch a break as far as system supports go. While she was preparing her speech last week she was also packing her belongings, paying for storage and moving fees all in an effort to be POTENTIALLY granted a transfer to a more suitable unit via a subsidy program. She incurred expenses she could ill afford with no guarantee of a transfer, is literally living out of boxes with her children during the process and was given no real assurance that any of that effort would pay off!! I find this a RIDICULOUS expectation given the participating agency is fully aware of her financial status, the fact that she has 3 children, one of which is an infant, and that she is a recovering addict who has wholly complied with the demands of all parties involved. I won’t lie, this made me a little angry…well actually a lot angry and a few expletives were tossed about! She has done everything the system asked her to do, she has completely turned her life around therefore ensuring a more positive outcome for her children who, I might add, represent the future of our community and yet, we continue to fail her over and over. People who lack the internal fortitude that Rachel possesses just give up; we WILL NOT let this happen to her. Her efforts should be applauded and recognized and she should be fully supported on her path to recovery. If we don’t support people like Rachel in rebuilding their lives how will we ever build a better community? Our community will only ever be as great as its inhabitants folks, helping at an individual level has benefits that go far beyond that individual and in reality serve us all! Let’s make Fredericton a shining beacon of hope for Rachel and all the others within our community struggling and show the world what “community” really means!!
Dancing for Dollars
So Friday night was our 1st benefit dance but we can assure you it won’t be the last! We had a fabulous time and have received so much positive feedback from you all that I think we’ll have to make this a regular event! We want to thank John at The City Club for donating the venue for our cause and Lindsay,our bartender, for her wonderful service! This is a great venue for hosting this type of event and one, we will certainly be using again! Big thanks going out to DJ Laura Greer and sidekick Allison for donating your time on a Friday night as well; Laura you ROCKED! Anyone looking for a great DJ that knows how to work a crowd needs to contact Laura. Last but certainly not least we want to thank everyone who came Friday night or purchased tickets in support of our efforts; we had so much fun with you all that we are already planning our next dance. Think Christmas formal & fancy duds! For those wondering, while we did not sell quite 50 tickets (we did raise $300+) I DID still perform the ChaCha slide in a tutu as promised; rumor has it there is a video so you will have to stay tuned to our Facebook page if you want a good chuckle at my expense!
It’s ok I don’t mind….it was pretty funny!
So that’s it for this week folks, thanks for all your continued support and remember sharing is caring so please keep spreading the word! Help where and when you can, reach out to others when able and have a fantastic week! Maria
“Ah, kindness. What a simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found in this world” – A.A. Malee