So many stories of humanity at our best

John McMahon, a friend of mine, who is one of those amazing human beings who throughout this week has simply walked into communities, hammer and crowbar at the ready, wrote the following comment on my blog yesterday:

Today I returned to Sunnyside to help out. After working at one home where we got a basement cleaned up, I was called to a lunch line up at the Disaster Cafe, a streetside barbecue and food line up  completely staffed by volunteers and survivors of the flood. I heard from a lady who sat next to me that there was a friend of hers who had a meltdown . So that was my next call, I was introduced and we just talked for a while. I did my Efit coaching right there on the spot and just listened and chatted. She was heartened to know just how much support was there. We then went downstairs and bit by bit, we got her to agree that she had to let go and just let us volunteers get her basement cleaned up. And then a troupe of people showed up from the Beltline Community. They haven’t been allowed into their homes, no power, so they were out helping.  And by gosh, we got the job  done. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be of service in a trying and difficult time. We are all blessed by this show of spirit and joy and determination.

John is an example of thousands of volunteers who are deploying throughout our city to lend a hand and clean up. This morning he called to tell me how the synchronicity of those events were amazing. How just as he got the woman calmed down and willing to at least talk about removing everything without first searching through every single item, one by one in her basement, a fireman walked over and convinced her of the need to remove the drywall to avoid mold and then, the people from the Beltline stepped in and got it all done. Calgary and Calgarians in action.

At Calgary Is Awesome, they’re sharing stories of how people just keep turning up, helping out, of how this whole event has rallied the entire city around the 3 C’s of Community, Compassion, Caring. In today’s story, they write:

A city worker explained to me that this was by far a life changing event for him. He had originally gone out to examine industrial complexes and the like, but soon found himself having to examine the residential homes of Sunnyside. ”It humanized the whole event for me. I got to see a face with each home as a homeowner would struggle to pump out his basement, trying to save his life’s belongings, but not realizing that the water had no place to go and would invariably end up in someone else’s basement.” He states that he sees the whole event now with a different perspective, and tries to offer some compassion whenever speaking with the unfortunately devastated homeowners. He was especially touched by the sudden arrival the other day of a family, who drove up, set up a BBQ and table, and immediately started serving hot food to the locals and emergency workers.  When asked if they were residents, he replies that they were not, and had come in from another part of town randomly to simply do their part to feed the people who need it most. He ended the story with the simple remark, “People are awesome.”  Read the whole article HERE.

I spoke with a police officer yesterday. He’d forgotten a meeting we’d scheduled and phoned to apologize. Seriously? Like he needed to? Calgary Police Service members have been tireless, absolutely tireless in their efforts to serve and protect. They have worked 20 hour shifts, come back from holidays to be on duty, and when not on duty, volunteered where ever possible. Along with Fire, EMS, and other emergency responders and city staff, they have lifted our city up and kept us from drowning beneath the weight of this disaster.

And then, there’s our Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Few words can describe the pride of every Calgarian in how our mayor has dealt with this entire crisis with compassion, humility, decisiveness and… humour. It is his humour, and his openness and candor that has inspired every Calgarian to stand up, stay focused and keep  moving forward to get the job done. He is amazing and has awoken the pride of Calgarians everywhere!

Yesterday, when the call came into our offices at the Homeless Foundation for volunteers to help in the beginning of the clean-up of the Calgary Drop-In’s (DI) Riverside Avenue facility, staff leapt at the opportunity to get into action. Rubber boots were donned, hammers hefted and off they trooped to dig in. It was not pretty. There has been no electricity in that quadrant of the city for several days. The evacuation order came in the middle of breakfast Friday morning. Food was left on tables, in the kitchen, on counter tops. Fridges, freezers, sinks were left as is. The volunteers dug in and cleaned it all out. My hats off to everyone, especially to the DI staff. They have been tireless in their response to the needs of the people they serve, the community and now, to getting the building back into shape for clients to move back in as quickly as possible.

And I breathe.

So many stories to tell, so many gestures of humanity to share. There’s my very own C.C. I told him the story of a mother whose heart was broken because her piano was destroyed and who cried because her children and she loved to make music together, and now what would they do? C.C. and his son T.C. who was hoping one day to move that piano into his own place because that’s the instrument he learned to play on, leapt at the opportunity to give her ours. It was the right thing to do they said. You guys rock!

I found this video on FB last night and share it here. Thank you Calgary. You make me proud to call myself Calgarian. You remind me, we are all one, connected through our human condition — where ever we are.

8 thoughts on “So many stories of humanity at our best

  1. LG,

    great portrait of ‘the way things are’ …

    Nido Qubein’s words seem appropriate for this kind of time: “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start”

    keep up the great work …



  2. So wonderful and heartening to hear about how everyone in Calgary has pulled together! Inspirational. You deserve kudos yourself for bringing so many good deeds to light. Blessings to all.


  3. Excellent post, Louise! The stories of everyone helping those in need is just amazing. What a great city and thanks for sharing these snippets of Calgary rebuilding with compassion.


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