Tag Archives: Volunteers

We are not alone. Calgary Flood 2013

At the end of the day
At the end of the day

I am struggling and I am not alone.

Those words drifted through my mind yesterday as I sat in a chair listening to my friend Kerry Parsons talk about her experiences at the Alia Institute last week in Halifax. Far from the raging waters of the Bow and Elbow, Kerry and many others were immersed in conversations and exploration of ‘authentic leadership’.

And as she spoke the thoughts of the disaster rattled through my mind. “Why I sitting here doing nothing? I’ve got to get busy. I’ve got to pitch in”.

And then this though surfaced like a warm blanket of ease to comfort me, “I am struggling and I am not alone.”

It is true. I am struggling. As is every Calgarian and all of our neighbours in southern Alberta. The damage, says BMO Nesbitt is somewhere between $3 and $5 billion. Hello? that’s a spread of $2 billion unknown damage. High or low side of their estimates though, it’s a whole lot of damage.

And we are struggling. Struggling to make sense of what happened. Struggling to know what to do next. Struggling to keep ourselves, and our families together. Struggling to get it done now when all we can do is stand in the ‘creative tension’ of our undoing by the raging flood waters.

And we are not alone.

We are one community, together, moving forward, through, over and under, around and between everything in our path.

We are not alone.

My daughter and mother are still evacuated as are tens of thousands of others. But, good news, over 35,000 people have been able to return home. And when they have, they have been met by a phalanx of volunteers standing ready to pitch in, lend a hand, get to work.

Take the Children’s Cottage. Its Bridgeland shelter was evacuated on Thursday night. On Sunday, Executive Director, Patty Kilgallon was allowed in to survey the damage on Sunday afternoon. When she arrived, she was met by JL Construction and 40 family, friends and strangers who pitched in to pump the place out, tear out dry-wall, carry out garbage and soaked furniture to get the place ready to receive the children home this week. In tears she told a news reporter of how incredibly empowering it was to have so much unexpected and welcome help. When JL Construction (I hope I have their name right — I heard her interviewed on the radio while driving to my office yesterday and didn’t write it down), anyway, when they were finished pumping out the Children’s Cottage basement, they continued on down the entire street pumping out every single basement.

That’s the Calgary spirit. We are not alone.

At Neighbourlink, food trucks have been arriving to serve up delicious food — for free. This is happening all over the city. The food truck phenomena spreads far and wide, the hosts of the trucks handing out free food to volunteers — and then, a stranger will walk up and pay for all the food. It is phenomenal.

Also at Neighbourlink yesterday, a company from Red Deer sent down a semi-trailer full of donations. And, a call out for an empty semi to store all the donations their team and volunteers are processing resulted in 20 minutes later, Suncor Energy jumping in with a donation of a truck, complete with delivery and team of volunteers.

My daughter’s workplace team headed out to Bowness in the morning, pitched in all day cleaning up mess there and then, when she called me at 5:00 she was on her way to Roxborough to help out a friend’s family who needed all hands on deck to salvage their home from the wreckage. When she arrived home at 9 she was exhausted but happy. And in all the activity her own concerns about when will she be able to go back home were forgotten.

But it is stressful for her, and my mother and the 600 other seniors who still cannot return home to their Bridgeland apartments.

I am struggling and I am not alone.

I am tired and I am not alone.

I am weary and I am not alone.

I am grateful and I am not alone.

I am inspired and I am not alone.

I am doing my best and I am not alone.

There are still those in emergency evacuation shelters.

They are scared and they are not alone.

And there are those returning home. They are worried and they are not alone.

It is not until they walk into their neighbourhoods that they see what awaits them. It is not until they step through the door that they can see the mess. For some, the devastation is beyond repair. For many, there is much work to be done. For some, there is nothing to be done other than to check for damage in dark corners of their basements. For some, there is nothing to do but start again. All over. And in the starting again, they are not alone.

It reassures me this thought. I am not alone. It gives me comfort. Solace. We are human beings and our DNA is programmed for connection, for belonging, for community.

We may be struggling, but in our struggle we are not alone.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed, text, called. I appreciate your thoughts and words and support and warm caring. You remind me, I am not alone.

And thank you Kerry and Sheryl — the time spent conversing, sharing, inspiring one another gave me great peace. You reminded me, I am not alone.

Celebrating the Heroes Among Us (2nd edition)

It is ‘Heroes Saturday’, the day on which we celebrate the heroes in our midst.

Yesterday, Trevor Boller wrote this on his FaceBook page about his wife, Tracey.

“My Hero this week is my wife Tracey Merrett She is goes weekly to Mustard Seed to assist with an art program there where inner city ppl come to express themselves in art. They have built up trust for her and she comes home energized on a Thurs night. Who has energy by Thurs, let alone 1030 at night? On the table was a bag this week of gluten free bread and some products. She was bringing this to a patron who shares he rarely eats because he can’t because of Celiac or something. I was so touched to see this bag on the table and was given to him last night. I used to think that everyone in Alberta could find food some place. I was educated! ♥”

He’s right. Tracey is a hero! And so is Trevor!

I’m coaching in the Givers 2 weekend of Choices, the life experience/personal development course I took six years ago that changed my life by letting me explore my limiting beliefs and giving me tools to live everyday with joy, passion and peace in my heart. It’s something I love to do, something that feeds my soul and brings great joy to my heart. The program couldn’t run without its volunteers. When the 90+ people walk into the room on Wednesday afternoon until they walk out Sunday evening there is one thing they absolutely can be assured of, they will be loved – even in those moments when they do not believe they are worthy — they will be loved. And, for the 30+ volunteer coaches who give of their time, talents and treasures, they know there is one thing they will do perfectly throughout the five days of seminar, Love the people when they walk through the doors, and keep on loving them. In that love and their giving spirits, miracles unfold. Husbands and wives let go of hurts and fall in love with each other all over again,  a man finds the will to live, a woman finds the courage to claim her dreams, families are reconnected, lives are reclaimed and spirits soar.

To everyone coaching in Choices this month (and all the other months too!), you are heroes.

I’ve never met Maureen Doallas in person, but, for the past 3 years I’ve been inspired and informed by her blog, Writing Without Paper. We’ve become ‘soul sistars’, exchanged emails, chatted on the phone and cemented a friendship I treasure. Everyday at Writing Without Paper, Maureen celebrates the ingenuity, creativity and excellence of humankind by posting interviews, essays, and links to other sites, and sometimes, she shares beautiful treasures of her own poetry. When her book of poetry, Neruda’s Memoir was published, I quickly ordered a copy and have been slowly devouring each delicate poem and intricate image she weaves with her words for the past year. Maureen makes a difference every day by graciously sharing her talents and teaching us about all that people are doing to create wonder and beauty and inspiration in our world. (and if you want some wonder and inspiration in your world today, go check out Maureen’s Saturday Sharing.  (My finds are yours) And do say hello! She’ll be happy to see you!

Maureen Doallas is a hero.

I have never met Grace Brown. I first heard of her through Maureen’s blog earlier this month. I wish I knew Grace. If I did, I’d give her a high-five, a happy dance, a hug, a huge Thank You! And I’d tell her how she has inspired me through the difference she is making for victims of rape and sexual assault. Grace is a college student and a photographer in New York and the creator of Project Unbreakable: The beginning of healing through art. Maureen writes on her blog, For Project Unbreakable, Brown, a college student, invites victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence and abuse to write a quote from their attacker on a large piece of poster board and to then be photographed holding up the quote. Yvonne Moss, a rape survivor and advocate for sexual abuse victims and one of the women Brown has photographed, states on Brown’s site that the project is “a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them.”

Grace Brown created this short video to highlight the importance and relevance and healing power of Project Unbreakable. Please share it.

Grace Brown is a hero.

We all need heroes. Who are yours? Take some time today, and everyday, to celebrate those who inspire, move and motivate you to make a world of difference. And let me know who they are. I’d love to share the story of your heroes here!

The world needs heroes. Let’s all be one. Let’s all celebrate the ones we know!