February 27, 2012 § 4 Comments
Over the past few weeks, with St. Valentine’s Day being celebrated in February, people around the world have focused on love and how to express it.
For me, after being married for almost 26 years, I’ve come to know that love in a relationship is something that is nurtured by both people involved. It continues to evolve and you see it illustrated in different ways, physically, through gestures or words.
Does love extend beyond individuals to larger groups of people, to communities? Do people have a relationship with the place they live?
I think so. It gives me goose bumps every time I hear of someone performing a random act of kindness. It brings tears to my eyes when I see someone recognizing they can make a difference to those around them.
Jody Kettyle is someone who realized she could do her own part to make Grande Prairie a better place by focusing on the good news – which there is plenty of – that doesn’t make headlines.
She started the Kinder Gentle Side of Grande Prairie Facebook page:
It has 360 members as I write. I’ve included some of the entries below. But first, I thought I would share a bit of Jody’s story.
Like me, Jody has lived in Grande Prairie twice. My job as Manager of Marketing and Communications with the City involves promoting the municipality and the community. In her job as a delivery driver, she sees and hears of negative things that can and do happen anywhere. She wanted to create a forum for people to celebrate what’s good here.
“There are a lot of wonderful things that happen in this city, but unfortunately happy, good things don’t sell papers,” she told me. “I came home on my birthday and saw the wonderful greetings people had put on my Facebook wall, and I was feeling the love. I wanted to share that feeling with as many people as I could so I started the group on January 5th. Someone told me once to be the change I wanted to see. I have wanted to do something like this for a very long time. I am so happy to live in this city and even more so now that I feel the emphasis is definitely shifting to the more loving, caring side of humanity.”
Jody wishes there could be a good news channel staffed with reporters who circulate through the community looking for the wonderful things people are doing.
“I guess I am a bit of a dork and a dreamer but it won’t stop me from believing we should celebrate the good things,” she says.
Here are some recent posts I wanted to share:
Ruth Hamm (Post 1): I am amazed by the huge hearts of the people of Grande Prairie. Three of us from Grande Prairie leave for Uganda in 3 days to do some relief work in a village as well as work with street children in Kampala where 50% of the children live on the street.
Individuals that I do not even know have come through with huge hearts and generosity. Thank-you hardly seems adequate for how this project has been blessed by you. May you feel blessed in return.
Ruth Hamm (Post 2): Today as I was busy trying to settle my clients prior to leaving for Uganda for a few weeks, one of them called and asked me to come by his home for a bit. As I was preparing to leave after our chat he handed me 2 balls with the Canadian flag on them. He had gone to the Dollar Store to purchase them for the street kids I am going to work with in Kampala!! I just wanted to cry as I accepted them…this from a man who himself was homeless up until a few weeks ago.
Michelle Wurtz Dana Wall: A wonderful story. I went to the Co-op with my daughter and grabbed a few things. When I was standing in line, I realized I’d left my purse in the car. I asked the lady if I could leave my stuff there and she could ring in the next guy… no prob…When I got back with my purse the lady in front of me paid for my groceries for me!!! Wow!! All she said was “pay it forward”.
Jen Simons: I would just like to thank everyone who stepped up over the last couple of days to help out those affected by the cold snap. So many people have given up their own time to be out in the cold rescuing others with boosts and rides, not because they were obligated to, but out of the goodness of their hearts; I hope they know how appreciated they are.
Tracey Matchett Silliker: I go to Sun Capsule fitness and I went for a tan and left my gold necklace hanging in the tanning bed. I did not realize I had left it there until the next morning. The necklace means a lot to me as my hubby bought it for me for our 12th anniversary. I called them first thing and the lady said she didn’t see anything. So after dropping my son at school I went to the gym…. And after looking, it was in the desk taped to a paper with my name on it. Someone could have easily taken it but thankfully someone kind found it and did the right thing. I was almost in tears when they found it 🙂
Darlene M. Astle: I just want to shout out a big ‘Thank You’ to a fellow GP resident who came to my house yesterday to drop off a chopping block for firewood. My husband was out at the bank to get some cash to pay the guy but wasn’t back in time, so the nice guy gave it to me free of charge! It’s refreshing to know that there are still kind people around to help when you need it! :).
Patricia Colosimo-Andreeff: I have had a very rough 2011. Out of the blue, a yoga-instructor friend of mine invited me to her classes for free. Her friend offered me the same gift. OMG! Totally unexpected and right what I needed.
Janice Kretzer-Prysunka: Two nights ago my crazy golden retriever found an open gate and took off … The coldest night and he’s off by himself. We looked and looked, posted on Facebook and called the radio stations. Very kind people in my neighborhood recognized him and noticed he was loose. They watched as he found a dryer vent across from their house to warm up under and then they called him over (he came of course, he’s a retriever!) I was so relieved to get their call and thankful that someone noticed a serious situation and took action!
Vicki Vienneau: I would like to give props to DeAnne Conway-Podolchyk!! DeAnne offered to purchase a bed for a lady with cancer who is sleeping on an air mattress!!! We definitely need many more people like her in the world 🙂 She totally made someone’s day and is going to make a huge difference in that person’s life :).
Angie Kipke: A huge THANK YOU to my neighbour for snow plowing my driveway yesterday. I so appreciate it!
Meanwhile, this past Sunday evening, a gathering of 40 residents assembled for the first gpsoup event, an initiative that emanated from the City of Grande Prairie’s Love for Cities workshop. After a meal of soup and bread, participants voted on ideas for projects that were brought forward at the meeting.
The $10 collected from attendees at the inaugural event will go toward a bird house building project with kindergarten students (A total of $402.60).
The gpsoup (check out www.gpsoup.com, #gpsoup on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/groups/334373066581266/#!/gpsoup) concept is intended to be an ongoing initiative.
Congratulations to Heather Renner and Lloyd Piehl for taking the leadership to spearhead its development.
Perhaps they have adapted the famous John F. Kennedy quote for local purposes – they are doing for their community without asking what will be done for them.
August 15, 2011 § 4 Comments
If there’s anything that life likes to do, it’s get increasingly busier. Sooner or later, we each wake up and think, “How did I get here?” That is, if we wake up to that fact at all. Although a busy life is not something I think any of us can avoid, it is possible to keep your ear to the ground and eye on the road to know when you’re swerving off track. Just like driving, it requires focus and attention when you’re behind the wheel. If you’ve got too many things going at once, you might find yourself in a heap on the side of the road sooner than you think.
I’m by no means crashing into a ditch, but I’ve felt myself slowly being pulled off course. In fact, I think I turned down a side road and lost my way for a while. I’ve been off on a different sort of adventure and the sounds of the main highway, that is, the road I had first set out on with a purpose in mind, were drawing more distant every day. I vaguely remembered what it once was, but was losing touch with that part of me. I’ve been wanting to make my way back, to remember what exactly I was after in the first place, but I didn’t know the way. At least not until, like a loud horn and beacon blazing through a thick fog, I was given a connection back to that place… and hence, a direction to head in.
I was reminded today of an experimental status I did on Facebook one day last year. I used my status as a cancer fundraiser. Except instead of trying to get my network to support me, I asked them for their stories. In exchange for every story shared, I donated $2 to cancer research. The experiment was successful in my books. I had nearly 40 stories shared, and 4 other friends who stepped up to match my pledge. In total we raised close to $500… yep, you read that right. $500 from a Facebook status update.
About 10 months ago, I left my employ with ATCO and started a new adventure with Yelp, a business reviews website out of San Francisco. With this new challenge came a lot less available time for me to keep up many of the online activities I had been doing in my spare time. This, unfortunately, has included blog posts on The Muse and Views. Today, however, I was reminded of why I started the blog with David in the first place. My whole reason for blogging was partially that of healing, inspiring and sharing my ideas and thoughts, and partially in hopes of inspiring and helping others with my posts. I’m not sure when exactly I lost sight of that purpose, but I did. And because I did, it’s made trying to keep up the blog and the new job next to impossible.
What’s so special about today? Well, through a sponsorship we’re doing with Light The Night across Canada, my Facebook status experiment and how well it had worked was at the forefront of my mind. I wanted a way to engage Calgary’s Yelp Community the same way I had engaged my own personal network all those months ago. I recognized my knack for using communication tools in ways many don’t think of at first. It comes so naturally, it’s a part of who I am.
This was the beacon lighting my way back. That connection into myself that I won’t otherwise find. As much as I wish this blog were for you, it’s really, first and foremost, for me. And, with David’s reminder not to waste our talents, I’m making my way back.
November 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
I grew up in a dysfunctional family where I was disconnected with many uncles, aunts, cousins and second cousins. That was, in addition, to the internal strife.
Since becoming an adult, I’ve always found that my better friends became closer than family. I never really made an effort to reconnect with any relatives, located mostly in B.C. and Alberta and the Western United States.
However, about five years ago, I made an exception to my rule. I followed my curiosity and, this summer, brought my sleuthing on an impromptu family search to a happy conclusion. No sweat for a former newspaper reporter. Ironically, it is Joyce who is the genealogist in the family.
It all started when I Googled myself. I do this every once in a while to see how articles or information containing my name appear on the World Wide Web since I am routinely quoted in the media. Also, there is a David Olinger at the Denver Post. I have never connected with him, but since he’s a journalist, I like to follow the trail of the scribe with the same name.
As I was scrolling down through the entries on this one occasion, I came across the name Kelley Olinger in Victoria, B.C. I was intrigued by this name since there are many Olingers in Southern B.C., particularly the Okanagan. However I couldn’t remember seeing the name Kelley.
So, I dug a little deeper and discovered that Kelley is a real estate agent in Victoria. I sent a note via email just to see if she could be part of my extended clan, particularly in Kelowna.
Sure enough, she is Peter Olinger’s daughter.
Kelley and I emailed back and forth several times and later connected via Facebook. Then when Joyce, Peter (our son) and I moved to Grande Prairie in 2007, there was always a greater chance we would get to the West Coast in the not-too-distant future. Kelley long ago suggested that if we ever got over to the Island, we should look her up.
So, when we knew would be going to Vancouver Island in August, we followed up on that invitation. We met for a lovely lunch in Victoria.
It was during that encounter that Kelley reminded me that she had located her father’s birth mother through Facebook a couple of years ago.
As a result, Kelley facilitated a reunion in Edmonton and the families continue to correspond. It also closed chapters for both mother and son. As well, Kelley now has more family background for medical purposes.
It was a terrific story that would never have been possible without technology. In fact, my connection with Kelley would likely not have occurred without Google and my curiosity about my own name.
I have no idea what prompted me to reach out and enquire specifically as to Kelley’s connection with me. God knows, there are closer relatives than a second cousin I could have tracked down. Family dysfunction does that to you. Someone has to make the first move.
It just seemed right at the time. I am glad I did. Kelley is, too. After our visit, she offered to be our tour guide if we returned to Vancouver via Victoria. With balmy conditions in Parksville, however, we stayed extra time there and returned to the mainland via Nanaimo.
Next time, Second Cuz!
Making connections with long-lost family is a tricky business. Certainly, it was a lot more challenging for Kelley to connect her father with his birth mother. There is always the fear that they don’t care to be reunited. In my case, Kelley had never heard of me until consulting with her parents when I first contacted her. I could have been some wacko.
Having gone through the experience and hearing the story of Kelley’s family, I would certainly encourage anyone with the urge to reconnect to long-lost relatives to do so. Sure, you might get turned away. But looking at the cup half-full, you are more likely to be opening up a whole new world to yourself.
Go ahead, hop on the phone or get typing!