Wisdom and Caring Through Their Eyes

Submitted by Rachel Elizabeth on January 26, 2014 - 12:02pm

1000 Conversations

Delburne, Alberta

January 18, 2014 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

(approximately 30 people in attendance including facilitators)

Submitted by Elaine (Gugin) Maddex

I had the privilege of sitting in on this amazing, informative experience. I arrived early and delightedly observed this event come to fruition. As the participants arrived, this particular group being mostly seniors, the atmosphere was one of cordial familiarity yet reserve as everyone was not quite sure why they were called to attend and what this program was to entail. This in itself is amazing as, of course, it is a well known fact that “seniors” hate change!! Well, it was soon proven that these seniors would throw that “fact” right out the window!

As friends and neighbors congregated at their tables into three different groups the mood continued to be light with laughter and friendly salutations heard throughout the room. With delicious delectables provided, prepared by Diane Gunter, along with plenty of morning coffee and juice the program got underway. Nora Smith, Delburne FCSS Community Worker, thanked everyone for coming and introduced Rachel Brnjas and Derek Alton from The Seeking Community Team. I was so impressed with the organization, professionalism yet ease that these co-ordinators exhibited. The instructions were precise, orchestrated and easy to understand. And the following questions and answers are the result of their efforts.

Why are you here today?

The answers I heard were ones of concern for their community like; to keep our community alive and to continue to support one another and work together. One answer was as simple as “Because Nora asked me to!”

What powerful experience of community comes to mind?

They explained how the community bands together to support one another in times of need, good or bad ie: put on a fundraiser, silent auction and dance for a young child who had a debilitating birth defect. Also, how neighbors put their differences aside and reach out in times of need. How, for the Delburne Legion #142, Remembrance Day is such an important event for these seniors. That the services are non-denominational and how there is a connection between our elderly and the youth when they go to the school to put on a special Remembrance Day program for the kids. They mentioned how the children are almost mesmerized by this event as they watch the respect these elders have for the fallen soldiers they fought side by side with for our freedom. A very important message for us all to remember.

What do you see as the benefits of community?

Knowing you have the support of your neighbors. A story popped up here that was both educational and amusing. It was that long ago when the only phone you had was a “party-line” if there happened to be an emergency the operator would ring one long ring so everyone in the area would know. It was also mentioned that if you were a “busy-body” listening in on your neighbors conversation was the best way to “get the goods” on what was going on (perhaps the first form of social media........a close second to Facebook, wouldn't you say??).

What challenges of community do you see?

Now, you'd think this is where there would be a great deal of grumbling and complaining but instead the conversation continued on to be one of concern for their dwindling community. The concerns mainly consisited of health care issues, housing for seniors, lack of businesses including restaurants, difficulty in getting machinery repairs and recycling. All very legitimate issues I would say! Oh, and the fact that everyone knows your business! Although, it was mentioned that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether it was a time of need or not!??

What do you see as the job and purpose of community?

To continue community support and to show a number of different ways of caring. To mentor our youth - “It takes a community to raise a child!”

Visions for the future of our community?

This is where everyone seemed to “let go” and the progressive visions poured out creating an amazing “wish list.” It reminded me of children thumbing through the Christmas Wish Book waiting for Santa to fulfill their dreams.

  • more shops and businesses

  • beautification of mainstreet with street lamps, trees, flowers and sitting park

  • walk-in clinic with a pharmacy

  • an assisted living seniors complex

  • churches continuing to work together

  • one large library, one that everyone could use instead of a small one at the school and the small one on main street

  • more employment opportunities

  • more up-to-date restaurants

  • nice new motel maybe with a restaurant as well

  • bus or van service to Red Deer

  • recreational facility with an indoor pool and a community activity co-ordinator

 

Then came the visionary statement:

In 10 years our community will......

...be proud of our thriving, beautiful town because we will be working together, respectful, trusting and will know and take care of our neighbors and developing community.

What one thing really stood out that one person has said today?

How supportive and caring this community really is.

How true that last statement proved to be today! These people came to show their love and support for a community which most of them have been apart of all of their lives. I heard many say they grew up here maybe 6 miles away and remained. This is where many of them went to a one room school house to get their education, married their high school sweetheart, raised their children and now enjoy their grand-children and many their great grand-children. Of course they don't want to see their community disappearing – this is their life! And of course, housing for the elderly is number one on their wish list as many of them stated “it's not that we want to go into a seniors complex but it will become a matter of necessity” as they age and cannot remain in their homes. With a great deal of them living and still maintaining a farm it will prove to be impossible for them some day. And as it stands now there is no where for them to go close to home, family and friends instead some will be forced to move hundreds of miles from their familiar surroundings and beloved community.

So my special wish for this community is to see it thrive and grow into a positive, progressive society of caring and supportive people wanting to dig in, be involved and love it as much as these wonderful seniors have displayed today. You are a blessing and it was an honour to be a part of this group. Thank you for teaching me the “true sense of COMMUNITY”!!