By Ilan Cooley
I find myself mourning the loss of community. It is nearly extinct, if not already dead. Growing up, I think we just took it for granted. As a farm kid, people came from miles around for brandings, weddings and funerals, and if something went wrong, at the very least someone would show up unannounced with a casserole.
I remember several years ago, my dad’s stubble field caught fire and a wicked west wind threatened to take it a hundred miles. It would have, if every neighbour within driving distance hadn’t come with a hoe, or shovel to stomp it out, as my dad heroically harrowed a perimeter to stop it in its tracks.
I recall a visiting family member being caught off guard as the rally cry came in around our house. All were roused and already loading vehicles as he called after us asking why we didn’t just call the fire department. When you are born into it, you understand the fire department is 30 minutes away and
you and your neighbours are the first line of defence. In smaller towns I suspect community still exists in ways it does not here in the lonely urban sprawl, but I think even there its heartbeat is weakening. Community used to spring up in churches and at dances, picnics and other such celebrations, but there is less of that now. Nothing would be thought of a neighbourhood pop-in. These days, the hatches are battened down tight, and it’s disheartening that doorbells often only ring when solicitors call.
I remember when I moved into my first new home. I was so excited to meet my neighbours that I baked Christmas cookies and took them door to door. I was met with confused stares and awkwardness. It didn’t take long before I no longer baked cookies, or bothered dropping off a baby gift for couples I barely knew. I know it is my decision to stop that has taken the sentiment of community away from me. I know I should try again. A lot of this reflection has been brought about because I recently saw a glimmer of hope. I witnessed the best example of community I have seen in a long while.
As a friend of mine battled cancer, people rallied around her in a miraculous way. She had lots of friends, and it seems she was a stakeholder in a large number of communities. There were her church friends, soccer team friends, running friends and family. They came to visit in her final weeks and days in droves, and I saw how it brightened her spirits. At her funeral there were stories of how one special lady had brought so much joy, light and life to the people she knew, and the groups she joined. It was there in that Baptist Church pew that I had a realization that community isn’t something that happens, it is something you create. On Friday, Doris would have turned 71. She was my own mum’s age, yet I considered her a friend because she treated me like I mattered. She made me feel important, and did so for many others, because she was a wonderful community builder.
On Sunday some of us will get together to run for the cure in her honour. She had survived breast cancer twice and also fought lung and brain cancer. We will come together as friends and will hopefully prove there is a pulse left in community. We wonder why people feel isolated these days, but we are all contributing to it. Let’s try harder and do better. We need each other.
(Published with permission)
Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton based entrepreneur and writer. She is a an avid world explorer, rescue dog mama and community builder.
Glenn Anderson adds some colour to the “Day of Golf”
Last week, the 32nd edition of the Glenn Anderson Day of Golf raised an incredible amount of money … in fact more than $832 thousand dollars! Chances are as the numbers are tallied up, that total will be near $900K! That’s a big deal and the money raised will fund cancer research. Congratulations to the organizers and a shout out to the Derrick Club who did an amazing job of hosting the event.
But today’s story is more about Glenn Anderson. A class act, Anderson travels up to Edmonton from Florida each year to help make this event a roaring success. He told some great stories at a reception the night before the tournament. If you’re an Oilers fan, you’ll enjoy this video!
Headliners Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki lead the way at Lending Cupboard fundraiser with $10,000.00 donation
‘An Evening with The Lending Cupboard’ proves an inspiring, community-building event
Special guests Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Straschnitzki strongly endorse TLC’s vision
‘An Evening with The Lending Cupboard’, held on June 16th at the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer, proved to be an exciting, inspiring event featuring Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Straschnitzki.
“When I was contacted to come and do this, it was a no-brainer given what I do now in medicine,” explained Wickenheiser, who is also of course a highly-acclaimed Olympic gold medalist and author in her own right. “This is a brilliant idea. I don’t know why we aren’t doing this across the country – it makes a lot of sense!
“It provides a very valuable service in the community…if we can help to raise that profile, that’s so good.”
During the event, Wickenheiser shared many details of her own memorable journey, reflecting on the hockey dreams that have been intrinsic to her life from a young age. She then interviewed Straschnitzki onstage, giving him the opportunity to reflect on the Humboldt bus crash of April 6, 2018 and the courageous steps he has taken to re-build his life since.
“My entire process from the time of the accident has made me realize how this kind of support really helps out,” explained Straschnitzki, adding that bolstering awareness about the service is critical as well. “It’s such a great idea, and it benefits so many people. The more the word can be spread about it, there’s even more of an impact that can be made. “Being in a wheelchair these past four years, I’ve realized how inaccessible things can be when you live with a disability, so I think it’s important to raise awareness about these kinds of programs,” he added. “I think it’s a great initiative!”
Executive Director Dawna Morey also commented on how thankful she was for how the event unfolded, and how inviting Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki – who turned out to be a powerful duo – was indeed the right choice. “I’m humbled that they joined us, and I’m also humbled by their incredible generosity – having donated $10,000 back to The Lending Cupboard.”
Amanda Blair, TLC’s Board Chair, said she was blown away by the generosity of all the attendees, including of course Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki – and the overall support from the community. “Seeing everyone pull together just gives you that faith in humanity – it warms your heart,” she said. “Everyone there was also super enthusiastic about it – I think a lot of people learned more about The Lending Cupboard, which is also what we are trying to do.”
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