I work for a non-profit organization that provides members of the community with resources, assistance and support. Our mission is to strengthen, honour and support the community. It is our goal to make the community and its members stronger and more resilient.
But it also means that we see members of our small community at their less than strongest moments.
It started out as a normal day. I shut off the building alarm, made coffee, and fired up my computer. I drafted press releases and “liked” posts on social media outlets.
And then my day took a turn into two completely opposite directions.
I was called into an unplanned meeting in which I was unprepared. Lost in the shuffle of deadlines and emails, I was scheduled to talk to the employees of the transition house about my position in communications.
Our transition house is a safe place for women of all ages and children, where their privacy and choices are respected. It is a place where women can remove themselves from a fearful, violent or unsafe situation and start rebuilding their lives.
As I listened to the employees talk about their day and what they see, I saw a different part of the paradise I call home. I was exposed to a world where many people show up with the clothes they are wearing, a few dollars at best and a defeated spirit. I learned about the struggles, worry and fears that my co-workers experienced in their daily eight-hour shift.
I walked out of the meeting with a different perspective and a heavy heart, and was immediately whisked into a different event entirely.
One of our programs helps new immigrants to Canada meet new friends while sharing their culture. On this particular day, members of the program were making dumplings as part of the group’s Chinese New Year celebration.
I met people from Peru, Russia and China. I met people who just moved here and others who were looking to make new connections. There was laughter, smiles and shared stories.
I went back to my office after the back to back events. I shut the door, sat in my chair and cried it out. I cried for the overwhelming emotions. I cried for the personal bubble of knowledge that was popped. I cried because I didn’t know how to help. I cried because I knew people needed help. I cried because there were people in need of help all around me.
I also cried for the one thing the two events had in common: hope.
People go to the transition houses for immediate help — and help for a better future. They go there to transition to a better, different life.
The members of the Welcoming Communities program move here with hopes of new opportunities, jobs or lives.
My organization specializes in hope. Hope that there is a better life out there. It’s something I believe. It’s something I value. It’s something I love about my job.
And I don’t mind that what I do makes me cry. We’re making things better. That gives me hope.
For more information on Sunshine Coast Community Services and their 35 programs, visit www.sccss.ca.