There Are So Many Ways To Contribute

Image

It is more than a week ago that schools were cancelled because of flooding in Calgary. Calgary would be in a state of emergency  for many more days to come.

It is one of those days when you will never forget where you were and what you were doing. I was staying at my friend’s house and then off to our Bishop Carroll graduation ceremonies with my grade 12 students .We were celebrating their accomplishments and yet mindful of the devastation all around us, but not completely aware of  just how Albertans would be impacted.

I knew that Calgarians would make a difference, but little did I know how amazing the role modelling would be for our students. Our students would have definitely risen to the challenge fundraising amongst other things, but it was the end of the school year. That will come in September, as I know our city will still need help then. Within the first day I received a tweet from the YMCA that one of our students was already helping … no surprise.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 11.53.50 AM

During the next week I would begin to see how much the city was impacted. I felt powerless in the beginning not knowing how I could help.

I recognized that I could give money to the Red Cross , that was easy. I could register with #yychelps, but not sure if I could do the heavy work.

Then came an email from our chief superintendant, Gary Strother, asking for volunteers to help with the cleanup efforts. I don’t usually look at my e-mail after school year ends, but this year I am more connected to my computer than ever before ,so I took it as a sign that I needed to act.

For two days I was up at 4 a.m. and to work by 5:15 because of the coordinating efforts of one of the organizers Ralph Strother along with some amazing people from  Whissell Construction .

Being in the middle of a neighbourhood at East Elbow Park made everything real. I just kept imagining if this was my home and my family, how I would feel and how appreciative of the help I would be.  I know the homeowners did, by the signs and the overwhelming thank you’s and gratitude that was displayed.

As Ralph Strother says, ”it was a huge step forward from unfathomable loss to rebuilding towards recovery… everyone worked shoulder to shoulder responding with no request too small and or seemingly too big dismantling garages, structures and even roofs, carefully, skillfully and even moving all the debris.”

Whissell construction donated dump trucks, front-end loaders, skidsters, trucks, barricades tools and amazing people who worked tirelessly to coordinate our efforts. It was amazing to see all the work being done around me. I am grateful for the small part that I would play to help out.

I have to admit it was hard work. It was back breaking work that some people do everyday (obviously something I am not cut out for on a daily basis) kudos to them, but for now they were adding to their week by volunteering. It made me very happy to be a part of it.

Ways I watched people help:

  • Driving the bus to get volunteers in and out of communities
  • Baking food for families and volunteers
  • First Aid responders
  • Organizing small clean up jobs for younger people
  • Lemonade stands
  • Raking, shoveling, hauling, demolishing, lifting, cleaning

Image

The list goes on…

There are so many ways people can contribute . Many people cannot contribute physically, but it is just as valuable to contribute in any way you can … JUST CONTRIBUTE.  We need to be grateful for what we have and what we can do, not to feel guilty for what we can’t do. All that we do matters and for today I am so grateful to live in a city of helpers. I do not have to look for them. They are everywhere.

Image

Click here :

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/U1DekWUNVC/calgary-floods-2013 

and then click on the pictures to move to the next picture in the haiku deck:

Thanks to all my fellow @CCSD_edu  colleagues especially Andrew who helped out and a special thanks to Gary and Ralph for making this happen.

Here are some resources from Alberta Health Services that you may wish to check out: Flood updates and resources…

Alberta Government’s pamphlet Support for Albertan’s Affected by Flood:   http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-ahs-support.pdf

Dr. Michael Trew’s Blog (Alberta’s Chief Mental Health Officer):  http://blogs.albertahealthservices.ca/floodcope/

 Mental Health

 

A Story of Celebration … Connecting and Everlasting Friendships

_MG_8734

                                   photo used by permission by Aaron (Bishop Carroll student)

I moved to Calgary via Nova Scotia and Atikameg in 1981. It was a move that would change the course of my life and so began my story of lifelong adult relationships.

Fortunately for me I have had wonderful friendships in my life, so I knew how they could make a difference and sustain me.  I have lifelong childhood friends from Nova Scotia who remain my dear friends today, even though I have been away for thirty-three years. We still make a point of seeing each other and celebrating our friendships every summer. 

Little did I know when I moved to Calgary, it would become my home or that I would discover extraordinary life giving friendships that would sustain me for life,”the gang” as we would so affectionately call ourselves. My friends are wonderful, kind, intelligent, considerate, amazing, loving and caring people. Our connections remain unbreakable.

The thing that I think is so amazing about these people is that we have been friends for over twenty-five years and never ever had a fight or major disagreement with one another.

According to Robin Yapp,” it was found that both men and women meet up with their closest friends just six times a year on average.” Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-202987/Friends-lifetime.html#ixzz2KzYXk22F

In over twenty-five years we have missed very little time where we go not seeing each other on a regular basis or celebrate a meal together. We have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, New Years, birthdays, births, deaths, and we often get together for absolutely no reason at all. There rarely goes by a month where we don’t sit down once , twice or even more times together to enjoy a feast. 

Every celebration creates fabulous memories. We laugh, sing, play games, tell stories and just plain enjoy each other’s company. Our children have been blessed with such great role models of positive, lasting friendships.

We are there for each other whenever anyone needs something no matter what. I can count on these people for whatever I need. They are my family. No, we are not related, but we are closer than some families. We have made a connection that will last a lifetime.

What do we all have in common? We moved to Calgary to work. We needed to be able to use the skills from our education. It was a place to create a life for ourselves. There are other commonalities, but this and the fact that we all had no family in Calgary has brought us together.

We all happen to be from a place near the water.  Prince Edward Island, Vancouver and Nova Scotia.   Others come to some of our celebrations, but not all of them because they have family here in Calgary. The rest of us don’t.

I absolutely love these people, and so do our children. We have been blessed with laughter in abundance over the years, positive memories that are etched vividly in my mind and will be passed on down to our children. There are stories upon stories that have been shared over the years. We never get tired of telling each other stories.

As I get ready to celebrate another fantastic seafood dinner with my buddies tomorrow, I know that we will have a glorious time. I look forward to each and every time we spend together.  I wish you could sit around the table with us and hear the joy and laughter that abounds. If you listen close enough maybe you will.

When I tell people about how much we really care about each other after all these years, they are often amazed. Really, we have never fought with each other about anything throughout the years.

What a gift I have been given. If I could I’d jump over mountains for these people I most definately would. They make such a difference in my life.

I have been so blessed with all the friends that surround me. I can’t even put into words what they have meant to me.

If I pass anything onto my children it will be this. 

Find great friends, not friends you necessarily always agree with all the time, but friends who you love being around and they love being around you.

Friends who :

  • accept you just the way you are
  • you can laugh and cry with
  • would be there in a minute no matter what you needed
  • the spouses like and respect each other
  • don’t mind being silly with you no matter how old you are
  • share the good times and the bad with you
  • you always know will be there no matter what the circumstances
  • share your hopes, dreams, successes and losses

Friends who always seem to know the right thing to say or do. 

I am so happy to celebrate my friends. I want to shout from the mountaintops that YOU have provided me with some of the happiest memories of my life. I LOVE YOU so much!

Click on the link for a digital tribute to my friends…

 Click here: Celebration of Everlasting Friendship.