18 November 2010

Gracious Thanks Extended

Recently, friend Ocean's monetary income was enriched, as she had applied and has received, Canada Pension Plan benefits and the Supplement for Elderly Renters. Her quality of living soared.

For those of us living in financial poverty, it is a real relief when our fortunes improve. It also gives us the opportunity to say thank you to all who support us along the way. Ocean has done this in the form of a letter to the editor of one of our local papers. Here it is, in full.

Generosity makes this best place to live
Chrystal Ocean, The Citizen
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I am a woman who lives daily with debilitating chronic pain, the result of the wear and tear of everyday life on a childhood injury.

Having turned 60 this summer, now I qualify for two important government programs. Now my annual income has gone from $7,200 (all my tiny savings could manage) to $10,000.

Now I receive a small monthly payment from the Canada Pension Plan, a contribution to my income I earned from a lifetime of work.

Now I am getting monthly help with my rent in the form of the Supplementary Aid for Elderly Renters, a provincial program. I am immensely grateful for S.A.F.E.R. It goes beyond description the degree to which this help has lessened my daily stress.

But it's the local resources and the people of this Valley I most want to thank.

Keeping one's head up when economically challenged can be difficult in a society that treats the dollar as god; and it can be difficult at times accepting kindness because it reminds you of how far you've fallen.

It's also a constant challenge accepting your own limits.

Without the kindness of people of this Valley, the quality of my life and the lives of so many others would be far worse. Many of us would be dead.

Beginning late last year, I began visiting the food bank every few weeks to get bread. Never anything else. Just bread. Prior to such visits, I'd stopped eating bread altogether. The price of the ingredients to make my own bread and the prices of loaves sold in stores were prohibitive. Bread didn't seem as essential as fruit or vegetables.

In the early days, my visits to the food bank were hit and run. I'd skulk in through the back door, avoiding eye contact, grab some bread and skulk back out. I was embarrassed to have to use this resource.

Now I don't skulk. Now I might stop to have a coffee, perhaps something to eat if a colourful salad catches my eye, and even a chat.

To the many people of this Valley who contribute bread and other foodstuffs to the food bank: thank you.

To the people who maintain the food bank, including Dave the cook (other cooks' names I don't know), and the driving force behind it, Betty Anne Devitt: thank you.

To the local grocers, to stores selling general merchandise including food, to independent bakeries and to home bakers, and to the many others who contribute to the food bank: thank you.

To Karyne Bailey, the woman behind Cowichan Valley Recycle ReUseIt, a wonderful online resource through which people of this Valley -- 1,151 members and climbing -- can obtain and give away stuff for free: thank you.

At the heart of CVRReUseit is recycling. Countless times I've received items I'd been going without, including basic kitchen equipment and bedding; and I've been able to give away items to people who needed or wanted them.

To Jenny, who brings me free eggs every couple of weeks: thank you.

To Daisy Anderson, who takes me along on grocery trips and changes my hard-to-reach light bulbs: thank you.

To Daphne Moldowin, who knows what it's like to live this way and helps me refocus when I'm down: thank you.

To the people who together make the Cowichan Valley one of the best places on earth to live -- for all of us: thank you.

Chrystal Ocean,

While I was reading it, I was thinking about the many other people out there who use the services provided that give a helping hand. Ocean's letter brings alive a real person to the nameless others who also use these services. Her letter shows an intelligence not often associated with the 'needy'. Ocean's letter indicates to me that she is graciously grateful.

Well done.

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