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The Gift of Courage


Courage is the theme of our 74th Annual General Meeting later this month and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. There are so many examples of courage celebrated in September.  From children finding the courage to let go of mom or dad’s hand as they embark on their first or returning year of school to young adults moving away from the safety and security of their family homes for the first time.  On September 10th, in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day, The Cambridge Self Help Alliance and The Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council will discuss the tremendous courage it takes for some of us to choose life in the face of unbearable psychological pain and the strength needed by those left behind when the pain is too much. The Terry Fox run celebrates the determination and courage of a young man who became a national hero in his quest to beat the odds.  At the end of the month, Waterloo region female residents are invited to bravely”Take  Back the Night”.

The_Wizard_of_Oz_We have the privilege of seeing courage everyday in our counselling rooms where woman and men, boys and girls, find the strength to stand up against internalized or present day bullies or abusers.  We’ve seen the tremendous courage it takes to end an abusive relationship or leave a toxic work environment or face one’s deepest fears.  I’ve supported clients to push past crippling flashbacks and nightmares to reclaim a sense of safety and self-worth. Expressing one’s needs and setting firm boundaries, common counselling goals all take enormous courage.

Over the last several months, I’ve been especially inspired with the courage demonstrated by my colleague, Sandi and her ill son Tyrel. After years of trying to have a baby of their own, my co-worker shared they were blessed with the adoption of a beautiful young boy who easily fit into their nature loving, active family.  She told us that Tyrel was the reason for leaving a long term job in a group home to join our agency because it was too upsetting for young Tyrel to see the physical wounds inflicted by the residents on his beloved mother.  Sandi’s sense of humour matched with a no nonsense attitude soon earned her the hearts and respect of staff, clients and community members in her role as PAR Coordinator.  For the past four years she has played an integral role in this important community program aimed at increasing victim safety and offender accountability and has been an invaluable member of our staff for over 5 years.

What was supposed to be a routine visit to the doctors turned into a parent’s worst nightmare as they were told their now 13 year old son had significant problems with his kidney and needed immediate medical attention. This news began an excruciating journey of trips to the hospital, tests upon tests, painful injections and his condition worsening to acute kidney failure.  While more aspects of Tyrel’s life were ripped away, Sandi became increasingly exhausted and scared. But despite major complications and many sleepless nights, Sandi’s determination to fight for her son was unwavering.  I was amazed to see her at work in the midst of all the chaos and personal agony. She showed the courage to make her story public and received tremendous support through her Facebook posts including a special page created by friends dedicated to helping offset the huge financial burden placed on the family.

Tyrel & SandiJust as I’ve witnessed the miracle of healing countless times in my counselling sessions; thankfully after months of bad news, Tyrel has begun to heal after receiving a kidney on Aug 21, 2013.

On September 11, 2013 members of our agency’s staff and board will be walking 5 km along the beautiful rail trail to Paris to celebrate the power of the human spirit and help Tyrel and his family during the recovery process as they begin to rebuild their lives.  We hope you will find the courage to join us or support this family by donating or registering for your own race.  Tyrel is still expected to be in hospital for several months and costs to the family continue to raise, especially transportation, parking and medication expenses.

Please join us on September 18th, at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, where we will celebrate courage at our AGM.  Call (519) 621-5090 for details.

NicoleNicole Sept 2013





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