One of our Core Values at Legacy Family Office is “Generosity of Spirit”. To us, that means everything from spending hours giving back to our community to directing charitable dollars to where they’re needed. When we ran across this article from Matthew Smedley – Chief Empowerment Officer at “Mission Possible” – we were struck by the gravity of the stories he shared, taking a first-hand look at the importance of those values of being connected and involved in the community you live and work in.
Hope for the Downtown Eastside
Matthew Smedley, Executive Director and CEO, Mission Possible
Of all the communities in Vancouver, the pandemic hit this one the hardest. Critical social supportive infrastructure was either shuttered or severely curtailed. Everything from food security to healthcare provision to employment support was impacted. With buildings closed to visitors, all socializing had to take place outdoors. The sidewalks became nearly impassable at times as they served as the only open community gathering spaces.
Hope is the greatest antidote for anxiety and despair. Seeing real transformation take place, seeing people move from surviving to thriving, this is both a possibility and a reality. My friend, Ursula, is an example of this. She spent years crippled by mental health challenges. Alcohol turned into harder drugs as she sought to cope with the feelings of despair around her situation. She knew she needed to change things for herself. At first, she attempted to start her recovery on her own by reading articles online, but she quickly realized she couldn’t do it alone. She reached out for help and entered a Treatment Centre. “I put 100% into it because I knew I was in the right place,” she says. She went from recovery into a job training program, working in a social enterprise. It had been years since she had been able to work a job. There she built her confidence and set her sights on regaining full control of her life. She set goals that were meaningful to her. The work was hard, but what she accomplished is remarkable.
Wherever we reside, we can learn from people like Ursula. We can become purveyors of hope in our communities. We can choose to look beyond the struggles. We can sit with the discomfort that is caused by seeing visible homelessness. And we can make it our mission to see what is possible and hopefully see our role in creating change. No person, organization, politician, or method is the silver bullet. What has and will continue to make the difference is for us to care, and for us to learn, for us to act, and for us to never give up hope. We can use our voices, our resources to ensure a continuum of care is robust enough to support people all the way from compassionate response to recovery to secure housing to employment to stability and health for each person.
In my experience, when we work together to support people on their journey, at some point, without even recognizing it has happened, the tables get turned. We realize that it is not only us offering support and seeing other people’s lives changed, but our own lives begin to look different as well. Through the act of offering help to others, we begin to find help for ourselves. We see our own perspectives begin to shift. Our priorities come into better focus. And our own sense of purpose becomes clear. And that is the way it is supposed to be. We are all on a journey. Although our stories are unique, we all need one another to help us see the dignity and worth inherent in each one of us.