Committing acts of service

Last month, Ted Osler, one of the partners at Six Degrees, an audio, music recording studio here in the city, offered to record the one page story I’ve written on Joanne, a young 17 year old girl who was murdered several years ago. Joanne was in the process of leaving street life behind when she made a decision that cost her life. We are telling Joanne’s, and other stories of women murdered on the streets in the project, and My Name is… which the planning committee is currently in the throes of defining, creating, organizing.

When I went to the studio for the recording session of the story, Andrea Wettstein, the composer and voice coach we were working with, became interested in the project enough that she asked to be involved. Yesterday, she came to the meeting with me and will continue to volunteer her energy and talents towards moving it forward. Six Degrees has offered to stay involved as well as we continue to prepare for the official launch of the project this fall.

It is the selfless giving of organizations like Six Degrees, city employees like Beth and Dawn, Jody, Rebecca, Quyen in the Arts & Culture Department who go beyond the call of duty to ensure Calgary’s cultural essence continues to thrive and individuals like Andrea and Helen and Sue and Bev and Jane and all the police working with us to create the substance behind each voice in and My Name is…, that great acts of service are committed in the world, everyday.

If you volunteer, whether it be your time, talents, treasures or the resources of your organization, I invite you to take a moment today and say, ‘You’re welcome world’. Acknowledging what you do as a volunteer, honouring your contributions is as important as honouring the contributions of others. Your willingness to contribute acts of service to the world, makes a difference.

Give yourself a pat on the back today — you deserve it and the universe deserves your gifts.


Doing the Hard

When I first met her she was a tiny urchin-like young girl  struggling to leave street life behind. Yesterday, when we met, I saw a graceful, caring young mother willing to ‘do the hard’ to make a difference in the world.

We were meeting at Six Degrees Music, Productions and Studios, an audio recording studio that had volunteered time, facilities and people to record a ‘story’ I’ve written about a young woman, Joanne Shaver, who was murdered at the age of 17 on January 9, 1990. The young mother was there to record the story. I was there as guide and mentor.

The story is part of, and My Name is…, a project that intends to honour street engaged youth and adults who have been murdered on our streets, while opening our hearts and minds to look at these lives and these stories with eyes of compassion.  and My Name is… will put a human face on the lives that were taken, give meaning to their passing, while opening up opportunities for healing and forgiveness and inspiring possibility in our communities, no matter what side of the street you’re on.

The young woman who recorded the story yesterday is Joanne’s sister. I met her years ago when I was writing and producing a collaborative play with a group of street-engaged youth. She was one of the participants. I’d run into her once since that time, in a grocery store where she worked. She’s come a long way.

And yesterday, just how far she’s journeyed was evident as she read the 3 minute piece I’d written.

Yesterday, the power of her story, the depth of her courage shone through the words she read. Written in the first-person, it was no small feat to read as if she was her older sister speaking.

She wanted to do this. She wanted to read this story. For her sister. For herself. Her family. For this project. She wants to make a difference.

And in her voice, in giving voice to her sister’s story, she made a difference. Those of us in the sound booth sat in awe, listening, taking in the story, being moved by the power of her voice and her sister’s short journey through life. She was incredible.

I am blessed to be part of this project. Blessed to be part of making a difference through telling the stories of those who never had a chance to tell their own story of their lives.

and My Name is… has already made a difference in the hearts and minds of those of us involved in the planning stages of creating it. It will be exciting to watch it unfold.

I’ll keep you posted.