There’s always time to celebrate heroes in our midst. It’s important we do.
Yesterday, I spoke at the 5th Annual Blue Friday Conference held at a high school here in Calgary. Organized by PMAST (Peer Meditation and Skills Training), Blue Friday is all about bullying — and how to stop it, shift it, end it. Winston Blake, Managing Director of PMAST kicked off the event with an amazing keynote address where he encouraged everyone to know and believe — It begins with me. No matter the situation; shifting it, changing it, enlightening it, begins with me. I have the power. The capacity. The ability to create positive change. We all do.
Winston Blake, Ian Tuckey, event organizer, Florence Lye, coordinator and all the speakers and volunteers who shared their time and talents are heroes.
In my session at PMAST yesterday I was deeply moved by some of the stories the youth shared. “What happens when the bully is your parents?” one youth asked, and I wanted to cry. What happens is what I saw everyday at the homeless shelter where I used to work. Men and women who never had the opportunity to expand into their greatness because the adults in their life when they were children never knew greatness either. Hurting people hurt people. To stop, we must stop the hurt within. We must quit acting out our pain upon the ones we love, the children who have been entrusted to our care. We must stop destroying the promise of our youth and celebrate life. Our life. Their life. Every life.
The youth who had the courage to stand up and give voice to their pain, and their promise, so that they can make a difference, so that they can end abuse and bullying, are heroes.
Kathy Christensen has worked with Alpha House Society for over 19 years, creating possibilities in the world of homelessness and addictions. Yesterday I visited with her at Madison — an apartment building Alpha House manages on behalf of Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF). At Madison, formerly homeless veterans have found a safe, secure and welcoming place to call home. And what an amazing place it is. Dave, a client I knew at the shelter where I used to work, greeted me with a hug and an invitation to come and see his apartment. With great pride, he opened the door, showed me around, described what he was doing with the decor and how important it was to him to have this place to call home. In the ‘common room’, Andy shared the peanut butter cookies he’d just made and talked about his life in the military. I was awed and moved.
Kathy Christensen, all the staff at Alpha House as well as CHF, the veterans who live at Madison, John Lundgren of Calgary Police Service who worked so hard to create awareness around veterans and homelessness and all those who have worked to make a difference are heroes.
On Thursday morning I gave a United Way speak at the Cargill meat processing plant in NE Calgary. Standing in the cafeteria in front of almost 200 people, I gazed around the room and saw the global impact of war and strife in other nations. Before I began I asked the crowd, “How many of you were born in Canada?” Not one hand was raised amidst the people sitting in the audience. Of the supervisors standing in the back, a few raised their hands. But that was it. And I wondered, who would do these jobs without the willingness of these individuals who have withstood war and famine, poverty, homelessness and displacement, to do whatever it takes to create a better life for themselves and their children? I was also impressed with management’s commitment at Cargill to encourage their staff to give back to community. Like many of the oil and gas companies in our city, Cargill matches dollar for dollar every donation employees make.
The staff and management at Cargill are heroes.
And, because I like to leave you with an inspiring video every Saturday morning, I share the following gem from the United Way of Calgary and Area’s website. Along with volunteers, they are sharing digital stories of hope and possibility. This is one created by two young women — may you be moved to take action. may you be inspired to make a difference.