Sunday, 29 January 2012

Introductions Shirley

So have you ever had a terrible chest infection, had to go on a 1 km CIBC Run for the Cure while pushing someone in a wheelchair.   I know!  Me too!

Oddly enough this was the scenario for the moment that the Forever Friends idea took shape. 

But I digress.  Shirley is Theresa's mom.  Now she is a director for the board of Forever Friends.  She has made a very conscious effort to stay very present in her grand children's life.  I think that is admirable.  They were not in an easy situation.  Some people would have let that stop them from a full relationship with their grandchildren.  But not these folks.  That is the part of them that I admire most.  Some people pay lip service to doing what is best for the kids.  These people never questioned their role and just did the right thing. 

 A lot of her story is not mine to tell so I will get to the part that is mine to tell.  So we were at the CIBC Run for the Cure, Shirley had just had surgery on some part of her leg?  (memory lapse as to which part but I definitely remember the wheel chair)  I was so sick I knew I couldn't make the 5KM part so I pushed Shirley for the 1 KM.  It was then that I broached the topic of changing the direction of Forever Friends.  She was all for it. 

I always valued Shirley and Barry's opinion.  I never wanted to do anything that the family wasn't comfortable with.  I valued their support.  I still do. 

Thanks for today.

Friday, 27 January 2012

My peeps!

The person in the group that has been with me the longest is Elizabeth.  I'm sure there has been more than once that she has looked back and wished she never answered the phone when I called. 

Elizabeth moved to town.  Her sister in law worked with Theresa.  When Elizabeth moved in, her sister in law told her to look Theresa up.  Or something like that, that is how I remember it anyways.  Elizabeth came to one of our early on coffee's.  She came to my house, had three kids.  All very similar ages to ours.  She was part of our laughter.  We were part of her support. 

 Life has happened to her.  She also has absolutely no idea how great she is.  But she is making her way there.  She is continually finding her strength.   I am proud of the women she was but I am especially proud of the woman she is becoming. 

She is very community orientated, has always been very involved in making the world a better place.  She is quite possibly the only person on the planet that has ever rendered me speechless.  She has five kids now.  A good solid husband.  A life that when she looks back at she will see her home filled with love.  I think that when you get to the end of your life, whenever that may be, if you can look back and see a home filled with love, then all is well. 

We started talking about the idea of helping women directly.  Inquired to the government.  She made a lot of calls.  She was the treasurer at the beginning. Now she is a director, in charge of the calender.  She has a truly amazing ability to know what day of the week a certain date will be without looking.  Scary!  (PS this is not an actual position, she just does it.)

We have been friends for years.  One of those friends you don't have to talk to all the time but when you do its just like no time passed.  The best kind of friend to have. 

I am going to include a link in this one.  This is our website.  Go there if you know someone who needs help.  Or if you need help.  Or if you want to help us.
Or take a few minutes today email or call one of those old friends.  Reconnect with someone.  Start to fill your home with love.

Speak kindly.  Thank-you!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Introductions-My friend, My inspiration

The first person I want to introduce you to is Theresa.  She has been gone for 10 years now.  She passed away in September of 2001.  Unfortunately in a situation like this when someone passes away before their time, we get caught up in the event of their passing.  The details that lead up to it, the why and the how.  That's not my story to tell.  That explains nothing of her, of the person she was. 

She had a huge smile and eyes that lit up when she grinned.  I have a moment of her, frozen in my mind.  Sitting beside me on the couch with her head thrown back laughing.  Even now when I think of her that is the picture that forms first.  She used to tease me that my daughter was so flexible that she would be a gymnast or a stripper.  (Thankfully my daughter is in gymnastics.)

I had just moved to town and wasn't sure how to go about meeting people.  I ran into her one day, was unsure of who exactly she was.  She had heard I had a daughter younger than hers, and offered to bring some clothes over that her girl had outgrown.  She did and we had our first coffee.  We got together a lot after that.  More women joined us.  We started having coffee as a group at least once a week.  Our kids were the same age and there was about two other women that joined us.  Then three, then it grew a life of its own.  Then we started getting together one night a week with out the kids.  We shared some wine and some laughs.

At one of our coffees we counted 17 kids.  We laughed together.  We celebrated together.  Occasionally we cried together.  During this time we knew she had cancer.  There wasn't much we could do except laugh and drink wine together.  My guess is now that is exactly what she needed. When her hair fell out from the chemo she teased us that she was the lucky one because she didn't have to shave her legs.  We joked that people would pay for that if it just worked on hairy legs.  And we laughed.

She got sicker.  But not so that you would have really noticed.  She would call me and tell me to meet her and her kids at the park with my kids.  The first time I tried to say I didn't have time to go, I was cleaning the house and baking.  She stopped me.  She said the mess will be there when you get home.  Made me go with her.  A few days later she brought me a copy of this.  She stuck it up on my fridge. 

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust
Author unknown

She also told me to treasure the moment, taught me that right now is the greatest gift, that's why it's called the present.  That was on something that she gave me too.  I can't remember it all but I know I embraced it. 
After that first time, I never said no to her again.  If she wanted to do something we did it.  If she wanted to take the kids somewhere we did it.  When it was time for coffee well then it was coffee time.  And we enjoyed ourselves.  We visited and we laughed. 

And then we lost her.  She went into the hospital and never came out.  It took a month for me to be able to make supper.  I would burn the meat and serve raw potatoes.  Nothing came together like it should.  I felt lost.  And I was only her friend.  I could never imagine the loss her family felt.  The empty spot that is still there.  And with that lost feeling we all got together and raised money for the Breast Cancer Action Saskatchewan Run that first year.  And that as they say is history.  From that feeling of loss, Forever Friends was born.  From that loss we built this organization.  

I would not be the person I am now if it wasn't for her.  I am grateful to her for the person I am now.  For the mother, friend and wife I am now.  All of our experiences shape us.  Dr. Phil says that time does not heal all wounds, but rather it is what you do with the time that matters.  I think it has been time well spent.  I also know she would be proud of all that has been done in her name. 

Thank you for reading. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012


I have often pondered my life and the blessings I have.  I have to admit something to you.  I am a generally happy person.  I am probably one of those people that you sometimes want to punch in the face.  I can't help it.  It just comes naturally.  (Seriously though please don't ever punch me in the face.)

I just look at everything and everyone that I am lucky enough to have in my life and smile about it.  Now don't get me wrong.  My husband listens to me rant and rave sometimes.  But only about stuff, not about him.  And my co-workers have also heard me come unglued, even though they might not admit it.  And don't get me started about my best friends.  They might be willing to laugh out loud at this. 

However, maybe the secret is to rant and rave, and then move on.  Maybe the secret is to surround yourself with good people.  Dr. Phil says that no one that is successful is a lone wolf.  Successful people always have a great team of people around them.  And the more I think about it the more I know that's true.  I have great people around me.  In my whole life.  I have a job that I love in a workplace that I love even more.  (In fact I may not even like what I do...It might just be that I love where I get to do it.) I have a great husband and kids, and my whole family is fantastic.  Okay I'll quit now I'm gushing. 

My point is that the folks I have around me are great people.  With their permission, I am going to start introducing them to you. 

Thanks everyone.  Keep posted and I will let you meet some of the fantastic people close to me.

Monday, 16 January 2012


I had a different post ready for today.  But now is not the time.  The community that Forever Friends was born in is reeling today. 

We lost one of our own this weekend.  In a small town, everyone knows everyone.  We have a story to tell about almost all who live here.  We lost one of our beautiful and bright stars this weekend to a terrible accident.  Loss is always difficult but much more so when it is a child. 

Right now my thoughts are with her family.  I can do nothing to help, nothing can ease the pain.  We all offer silent prayers. 

Take solace in your blessings.  Treasure what you have because there are no promises.  Be thankful for this day.  Be kind to one another.  Sometimes pain and suffering are just a blink away. 

Friday, 13 January 2012

Exciting Stuff!

It still amazes me at the great things that happen with Forever Friends.  Earlier this year we were asked to participate in an Inter agency Council with other organizations that also help people with cancer.  This agency came up with a navigation website that although is not quite up and running yet will be shortly.  This should help people that need help, get answers when they need it and in a way that is easy to understand. 

Just this week, we have been invited to a workshop that is going to help with getting the government to see some of the needs specific to breast cancer patients. 

We were lucky enough to be on the CTV Morning News Live this morning.  That was an awesome experience.  And they also let us know that they will let us be on again before the auction.  Hopefully the next time I won't be so nervous.  This time I forgot to smile and said "you know" a lot. 

We were approached by another group and asked if they could have a fundraiser in our honor.  This is a huge help to us because there are only nine of us on the board.  As I have mentioned before, we have no employees so it is us that puts the fund raising together.  We don't do it alone.  We have a great membership that does help us but the planning is up to us.  So when people help us it lets us help so many others.  We are so grateful to everyone who helps us in this way. 

We also gave away a prosthetic and two bras ($865.00) and are in the process of arranging care for another family(we will let you know).  So in my real world job, I won't lie to you, its been a tough week.  But in my real life passion it's been fantastic.  I can't thank everyone for all the support and kind words enough.  This is why I do what I do.  This is why Forever Friends does what it does. 

Thank-you all for reading, sharing, and talking about us.  I am forever grateful as well.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


We have started planning our auction.  We have sent out over 125 letters requesting help.  We have great sponsors that have supported us every year with out fail.  I would love to mention some but I don't want to get in trouble for forgetting anyone.  But you guys all know who you are.  And once again, thanks so much for that.

We have also emailed everyone we can think of asking for items for our auction.  We call in all favours, and reward anyone who has done anything for us personally this year with a request letter for the auction.  Our last auction we brought in about 18000.00 dollars leaving us a profit of about 14,000.00 dollars.  But to put this in perspective, we gave that much away in the last month.   So you can see how we need help to keep up to the applicants.   Thank goodness for Conexus Credit Union Corporate Sponsorship this year.  We were chosen as the Conexus Credit Union Corporate Charity of the Year.  It has really helped with the shortfall.  If it wasn't for these caring companies we wouldn't be able to do what we do.

 (And on a side note about the classy folks at Conexus, they helped us with no strings attached.  They didn't try to make us change institutions, take out investments or put any restrictions on us.  Class act
 all the way.  I have been impressed at every turn in dealing with them.  They are a really good bunch of people.  It is more than just corporate responsibility to them, they really care.)

So if you have donated in the past thank-you and if you would like to donate now, let us know.  We already have four donors on board.  One responded in literally two hours.  Thanks CKRM and Colin Lovequist.  You get the award for the quickest response time EVER!  PS This is the award. 

Thank you all for the read today! 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

So far

I am going to brag here.  Just giving you the heads up.  Forever Friends stopped two foreclosure's this year.  TWO!

One of the women was just finishing treatments.  She had maxed out everything she had, cashed in her RRSP's, lived off of her line of credit until the bank shut it off, did everything she could do and was just about to go back to work and the bank called her mortgage.  The bank had done all they could for her.  Unfortunately in the banking world it is very black and white.  They tried to help her.  But they can only do so much.  When she was working she could handle the mortgage.  When she couldn't she fell behind every month.  She was in too deep to get out on her own.  She called us. 

She had to remortgage her house.  The bank "helped" her out and gave her a new mortgage with a new interest rate of 11.75%.  Again all numbers.  If your credit score is low, it doesn't matter why.  They just use that in black and white to set your new payments.   But she had to pay off the three months she had missed plus the charges for missing.  $200 per time.  If she couldn't have come up with the $3600 she was going to lose her home. 

Imagine winning the fight against cancer and to celebrate being foreclosed on.  Way to go lady!  You did a great job!  Now you and your kids need to find a new place to live!  (I hope the sarcasm is very apparent!) 

We worked with her bank, got her on track with what she needed.  We did it in less than a week.   She is doing fine again now.  Everything is on track.   She is back to work and all is well.   All over 3600.00 dollars.  Its not a lot of money when you have it but when you don't, its huge. 

The second story was very similar to the first.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul until the bank put a stop on the line of credit.  The remortgaging went better with lower interest rates but the catch up was impossible.

This woman was still in the middle of treatments with no end in sight.  She was falling behind further and further every month.  What she needed was not a quick fix but a longer term solution.  She needed on going help.  We were able to do that.  We made up her short fall for the year that she will still be off work.  She had a good job.  Worked for one of the crown corps.  Had good insurance that was paying her about 50% of what she was making.  She had a retirement plan she couldn't touch and had wiped out her RRSP's.  Had we not been able to help her she would have had to sell her house and move into low income housing.  

That's not what you work for your whole life to achieve.  Being forty something, successful in your career only to end up sick for two years, wipe out your retirement savings, lose your house and have to move your family into assisted housing and hope that in the middle of it all, the cancer doesn't kill you.

Imagine living on half of your paychecks now.  Just imagine...

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Secret

The name for the blog came about because of how I feel about what we do.  Everything that this group has given has come back to me ten fold.  Oprah talks about this all the time.  What you put out in the world is what you get back.  It is very true.  I have lost count of my blessings.  And I am not sure if it means you get more blessings or if you just learn to appreciate the ones you have.  I have two kids.  Lots of people have two kids.  But when you look at them do you truly appreciate them. 

When I am on the phone with women that think they may not win the fight with cancer, their first thought is their children.   After talking to them and really hearing what they are saying, how could I as a healthy women get off the phone and scream at my kids for not cleaning their rooms.  At those moments I look at my kids and am amazed by how tall they are, how polite they are, amazed that they are mine.  And so very blessed that we are all healthy and happy.  So my point is the blessing was there all along but the appreciation is not. 

Being part of this organization has taught me that everything I think I have can be taken away from me.  Therefore I appreciate everything that I have the good fortune to have in my life.  And it doesn't always have to be the big stuff.  Yes I appreciate my husband and kids but I also really appreciate my convection oven.  I love how easy it makes my life having the second oven.  When my house is filled with company and I need both ovens, I really appreciate having the second one.  We don't have to give up our earthy possessions, we just have to be grateful we have them. 

So I begin each day knowing that I am amazed and blessed.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Our meetings started over coffee.  Unfocused and unregulated.  But fun.  A feeling of belonging to something more.  We started as friends with a mission.  It has now changed.  Now we are women with a mission that become friends. 

We had fantastic members that accomplished great things.  We got a non profit number and registered a name.  We  got our charity number.  If anyone out there has ever actually obtained a registered charity number from the government then you know how incredibly complicated and time consuming it is.  (And rightfully so I suppose.)  We drew up by laws and set up routines.  We planned and dreamed.  And talked about what if.

What if we could actually help people.  What if we could give people what they really need when they really need it.  What if an organization helped people who were not already poverty striken.  What if a group would help people when they needed it and not a year later when their income reflects it.  What if people didn't have to lose everything before they get next to nothing.  We dreamed.

And the best thing is, it all came true. 

Thanks for today!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Smartphone fundraising among most compelling stories of 2011

Ironic that this follows the thinking in my last blog.
I also noticed the comment at the end. Charities have such a bad rap for this reason. The worst part is that I don't know the answer. I spend hours on FFOH every month and so does a lot of the board. In order to deal with all the paper work the government sends you almost need a professional accountant. In order to avoid being sued you really could use a lawyer. And in order to give FFOH the attention it needs takes a huge amount dedication.   The sad part is that charities with the best intention can burn out because people can only do so much. 

I am a real estate agent.  I work full time in an office that sells both insurance and SGI licencing products as well as the real estate.  I have two kids.  Our treasurer is a esthetician with three boys under the age of six.  Our secretary works at a Credit Union in lending full time and has three kids.  Our vice president is a teachers aide with three kids.  We have great board members that are very busy too. 

The answer might be just that many hands make light work.  I guess if we find organizations we support we should volunteer.  And we don't all have to work in a soup kitchen to volunteer.  Find any way to help and do it.  Call and ask.  I bet that any organization you support will be able to find something for you to do. 

Smartphone fundraising among most compelling stories of 2011

Have a look at this and then let me know what you think.  Thanks for reading today!