Congratulations on such a spectacular conference and the $20 challenge. It is such a glorious feeling to be able to pay it forward. With my $20, I have purchased one of the gift bags from the Community Gift Giving Program. This program provides every resident of the Port Perry Nursing Home with a present on Christmas morning. This has been a program that I have been a part of for a few years and is very dear to my heart. Thank you.
I combined the $20 I recieved with donations from others totally $130. Open Arms will be giving 12 year old Andrew who is from a single parent family, a birthday party. He has never had the opportunity to have a party where he could invite friends, as most kids living in poverty. We will be providing a party at NEBs fun world. It is important to know that 60% of the children who live in poverty in Oshawa are from single parent homes. We hope to provide more birthday parties for kids like Andrew. Andrew has a dad who left him and fled out of province and a mom who works two and sometimes 3 jobs to survive. She is the working poor. She had gone off of subsidy for housing because of a promotion to full time work but a cut back placed her work status to part time. She can no longer afford to live in her small rental townhouse . Life is difficult for even hard working people like this mother.
I made my decision about what to do with the $20 within 48 hours but it has taken me some time to put my plan into action and then find the time to write about it.
I decided to reconnect with a young person that I had gotten to know through work I had done a few years ago. I knew from reading some of her posts and thoughts on facebook that she was having some challenging times and facing difficult decisions. Although we had stayed in touch ‘electronically’ we had not seen each other in over three years. So I decided to reconnect with her by taking her to lunch.
I told my kids my husband and a couple of friends my plan and they offered to contribute to the cause…..so, the $20 quickly grew to $120. I was pleased as this would be enough to cover many lunches….
We got together for lunch and although I was afraid it might be a bit awkward, it really was a very enjoyable outing for each of us. At one point, the young woman told me that she ‘couldn’t find joy’ in her life anymore and talked about some of the challenges she had faced since we last saw each other. She is the same age as one of my children and my heart went out to her as I listened to her talk. My plan, was to use the pool of funds to regularly take her to lunch…at least once per month. However, my plan changed a bit that day.
I mentioned to her that I had been offered two tickets to a function, a gala, being held by the agency where we had met. Her whole face lit up as she told me how much she would love to go to a Gala and how much she would love to see the people who were still connected to the place where we met. Long story short…..we finished lunch, went to visit the agency where we met….and then we went shopping! We got her a new dress, shoes and purse and made our plans to attend the gala together.
The big night was last night and she was very nervous but just thrilled to be going to such an event. She looked just beautiful and she was so excited to be there. We had a good time together and enjoyed lots of laughs as she tried her hardest to get me to stop spending my money on things I didn’t need on the auction table. She was a bit overwhelmed with all the cutlery and multitude of dishes on the table and was shocked that we actually would use the linen napkin as opposed to a paper serviette. She was mesmerized by how pretty everything was.
At the end of the night, I took her back to the shelter where she lives. She was reluctant to get out of the car and wanted to make the night last a bit longer by going for coffee! We have made plans to get together in a couple of weeks and I am trying to find ways to help her to connect to the place where I currently work as I know it would good for her to develop a circle of friends and support. She does not have contact with her mother or father and is trying to figure things out on her own.
And so, our plan, moving forward to extend invitations to other woman we know and have lost contact with. As a point of interest, I shared my plans with the parents of the young man I gave the $20 to last year. I let them and the young man know how Denise and Dan both talked about what their son did with the $20 last year. His parents immediately offered to contribute $20 to the ‘lunch kitty’.
Thank you for the $20 challenge and the opportunity to reconnect.
Lisa McNee Baker
I am extremely inspired and grateful for yesterday’s event. As an example, I was asked by Dan to share my legacy, to open an Equine Therapy Centre for those that struggle with Mental Health issues. I, myself struggle with major depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. To my surprise, some of those that attended yesterday’s event contributed their $20 to me so my legacy could happen. I am EXTREMELY grateful to all that contributed. It is a gift that I never imagined I would receive.
Since my legacy is to open an Equine Centre for those that struggle with Mental Health issues, I have contributed my $20 to Kylie Payne, a friend I met in Lakeridge Health Oshawa ‘s Day Hospital Program for those with Mental Health issues. Like myself, Kylie also took up horseback riding to help with her depression and anxiety. Kylie is unable to work as of yet due to her health issues and struggles coming up with the money to attend regular horseback riding lessons. My $20 has gone towards a horseback riding lesson for Kylie.
I gave my $20.00 to a man I believe is homeless or lives in a local shelter. He walks the streets from early in the morning until well into the night. He stays to himself, does not beg for money or smokes and seems fairly clean. I have watched for many months and thought he could use a good meal. I approached him, as I walked toward him he bent his head down. I offered him the money which he took with thanks. I watched him as I walked away and he kept looking at the bill as if it were not real. I sure hope I made his day.
Susan St. John