By Lara Gladych –
Seaside Magazine wants to live up to our slogan of being “the voice of the Saanich Peninsula,” so, in every issue, we ask people to answer a question. We’re looking for responses from all ages and across the diverse neighbourhoods that form our community.
An act of kindness is never lost on me, and being engaged and visibly kind to others is something I try to be aware of in my everyday life. Doing something kind for someone else often cheers me up when I’m having a bad day, and there are also days when another person’s kind gesture has completely changed my outlook on life.
To see these acts play out in the world reassures me that as humans, we have an enormous capacity for goodness and goodwill towards others.
What is an act of kindness, either given or received, that stands out in your mind? This is the question I asked people in connection with our Giving Back theme for the month of July.
The first person I spoke with had an enormously good deed to recount. “I don’t know if you remember Sarah Beckett – she was a police officer that was killed, and [the city of Langford is] building a playground in her memory. I’m actually a police officer, and I also own a playground company, and obviously this kind of speaks to us. We’re volunteering our time to help build it, as well as [donating] our supplies, our techniques and our equipment – coming up in August when the build happens. We’re doing a volunteer install, and will have about 70 people there the day of, offering their services for free.” This was Rob, 46.
Randy is 58, and having had a few moments to ponder the question he said: “The thing for me is that there are a lot of people that are lonely or hurting. Just giving a phone call, or, in my case I go for lunch with an uncle who’s by himself. Sometimes you think of the big things but they don’t really help many people. I realize it’s the little things with my in-laws. He passed away and she’s by herself. I’ll give a phone call to say ‘How’re you doing?'”
I spoke with Zaylee, 32, who could immediately place how acts of kindness have affected her life. “I’m from Regina originally, and I moved here a couple of years ago. Anytime anybody helps me with my kids – I don’t have family here and my husband works away – it’s an act of kindness that helps me so much. There are a lot of people around here that are always willing to give a helping hand.”
I crossed paths with Roy, 64, and his wife. “Giving of your time, that’s what we do.”
Next on my route I met Clint, who is 46. “It’s the little things, like say you’re in line for coffee and someone in front of you pays for it. You just pay it forward the next time.”
“Well, someone turned in a package that I left at a store and I got it back.” Christine is 73. “I try to help everybody I can.”
“Somebody covered our diner bill,” responded a sweet older gentleman (who preferred to remain nameless) who sat with his wife looking out at the water.
When I sat down to speak with Terry, 68, I couldn’t have known that she was previously deep in thought on the bench that turned out to have her late husband’s name on it in memoriam. “I’ve had a lot of kindness given to me in the last year. It will be a year tomorrow,” she said as she brushed the name plaque with hers fingers, tears coming to her eyes and her voice welling up with grief. “In the last year I’ve had a lot of kindness, just people doing any kind thing they could for me. I’ve had people be very kind to me, and I will repay that, or I’ll pay it forward.” I thanked Terry for speaking with me, and sensed that it was a relief for her to acknowledge her gratitude for those who have been there for her.
Lately I’ve been helping single mothers with food,” said Chantelle, 44, who says she does this often, and also helps with gas money for mothers in need. Her co-worker, Heather, 55, recalls with a laugh that she bought Chantelle a cookie earlier that day, and Chantelle affirms that Heather often does such things for others.
Anna, 59, shares this: “I think for me, it’s that we recently helped our daughter move back from Vancouver, but we also helped her roommate because her roommate didn’t have anybody. I think when you can reach out like that to somebody who needs a hand it’s important … it could be any one of us.”
Along with Anna was Lisa, 53, who shared this message: “Pay it forward. The value doesn’t matter. It’s the greatest feeling, and it’s more for the giver than the receiver. Everyone can do it, just reach out with no strings attached.”