Neighbours Helping Neighbours

11 January 2021

As a child growing up on our family farm outside Plattsville, Ontario, I learned from an early age that neighbours help neighbours. That could mean helping with field work when a neighbour becomes sick or injured, helping rebuild a barn after a fire, or helping a family after the loss of a loved one.

Our farm was across the country road from the family of Richard and Susan Cressman. One morning, so many years ago, helping meant phoning my parents for me after I - in my pyjamas and bare feet - chased after my runaway farm dog, eventually walk/running all the way down our gravel driveway, across the road, and up to their house! As a young teen, helping meant babysitting the Cressmans’ three kids, sometimes even spending the night in their home.

Years passed, and I hadn’t been in touch with the Cressmans for many years - decades, really - when two friendly & familiar faces appeared in front of our booth at a community event in 2019. Richard and Susan recognized me, and took the time to come over and say hello. We had a very brief few words and wished each other well.

In December 2020, I was saddened to learn of Richard’s passing due to suicide. I was saddened to realize the immense struggles Richard must have faced, and to think of the impact of these struggles and his passing on Susan and the “kids” - now all grown up and living their lives. I was saddened to think of how many others may be facing these kinds of struggles in our community, and how these struggles have likely been amplified by the difficult circumstances of the pandemic and related social restrictions.

All this sadness was powerful, and I decided I needed to direct my energy into something uplifting. I started planning a gift box with the intention of offering an easy way for someone to bring another some comfort. Of course I started with our own natural bath & body goods, but I wanted more; candles and tea came to mind. And when I contacted some generous and talented neighbours and let them know of this plan, and the idea that we use the box as a way to raise funds to support a local community organization, they donated items or provided them at reduced cost.

I contacted the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, the community nonprofit that was named in Richard’s obituary, and let them know our intention to use the box as a fundraiser for their organization. And they provided some uplifting notecards that will also be included in each box.

This is what we do here; we help our neighbours. We hope that the Winter Pick-Me-Up box brings a bit of joy to you or someone you love. And if you or a loved one is in need of support, I hope you’ll reach out to the Wilmot Family Resource Centre.

Take good care.