We must be genuine in our approach to help, to care, to give, to bring companionship and love to those who are lonely. We must give if we are able, and in return we must expect nothing.
And that is what these stories showed us over the past few days of December. People, just ordinary people, in our community, who had that compassion and empathy toward all peoples. They give and expect nothing in return.
Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, or teacher running a massive charitable campaign that benefits hundreds, or even thousands of people, or you are a 10-year- old boy collecting beer cans for Harvest Algoma, or you are a retired nurse feeding the homeless on our downtown streets at night and caring for their most basic of needs, all of these profiles had one thing in common – these individuals had genuine care. They love their neighbourhood, they love their community, and they showed that love by an outpouring of themselves in charity.
Often times the recipients of their generosity were the most marginalized in our society. Homeless individuals, people with addictions and mental illness, and folks just down on their luck need us now at Christmastime. The reality is they need us even more during the rest of the year. These profiles showed us what it means to have a spirit that works and gives all year long.
So many of these profiled individuals are friends or business acquaintances of mine, and they have just floored me over the years with their humble approach to giving, their kindness and their selflessness. It was time for their good news story to be told, for their story to be heard, and for us as a community to say thank you to them.
So many of the individuals profiled contacted me personally to say that so many folks had come up to them in the streets to express their gratitude, and to shake their hands after their profile was run. Many were overwhelmed with the love and warmth that was expressed to them by folks in our community. Thank-you Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma. You made their day.
I would like to acknowledge the good folks over at Village Media. Jeff Elgie, the CEO of Village Media offered his amazing social news platform to help me get the good word out, and Frank Rupnik, who worked with me daily on timing, placement, and editing responsibilities. It was so good to work with Frank again. So sorry Frank that your email inbox was flooded with edit after edit.
Village Media is one of our corporate citizens who are also genuine in their giving and generosity to this community. Jeff and his great team there have given to just about every event, activity, festival and social need out there. Jeff has grown his company into one of the most successful social media news platforms in North America, and he always has the interests of his town in mind. Donna DeSimon and her gang at Addictions and Mental Health Advocates think the world of Jeff Elgie and Village Media for all his financial assistance keeping their charitable work solvent. Thanks for your way of being Jeff. You work quietly in the background generously giving to those who are most needy.
I would also like to thank all those family members and co-workers who secretly assisted me in getting “the goods” on their people. I could not have found out so many of the personal anecdotes and stories for the profiles without your help.
And so, I would like to end this Christmas Eve reflection with the words of a hero of mine – Anne Frank.
Even after hiding from Nazi soldiers for over two years in a hidden annex, Anne wrote in her famous WWII diary, “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”
She also wrote, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
Anne and her family were captured and sent to a prison camp where soon after she died. It is Anne’s spirit and unconditional love for all humankind that is found in the folks who were featured in these profiles.
And so, I guess my Christmas wish for all of us is that we too can come to love all humankind, like Anne, and these Sault and area friends of ours profiled here. In the face of the darkest night of the year, the coldest night of the year, and for some, the loneliest night of the year.
Let us be mindful that it is also the “holiest night of the year.”
It is time to rejoice, be glad, and sing Hallelujah!
God bless you good friends, and Merry Christmas to all.
Frank O’Connor and his wife Gail are the owners and operators of Voyageur Lodge and Cookhouse in Batchawana Bay. He’s wrote a profile a day leading up to Dec. 24, featuring people who have given back to their community in a positive way through their good deeds and work.
Thanks, Frank, for a job well done.