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What Community Means to Me by Janet Smith

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If you live in London, Ontario, you’ve probably been to a Start.ca sponsored event. As we prepare for the upcoming Continental Cup, of which we are the Community and Stage Sponsors for, I stopped to reflect on what these sponsorship's really mean. Why did being a part of the community mean so much to the company? And for that matter, what did “community” mean to me?

I started thinking back on moments in my life where I had experienced community support. I grew up in a very small town of about 330 people just north of London, called Ilderton. Some of you may recognize this town, as it is also the hometown (and home ice) of Scott Moir, one half of the amazing Canadian Ice Dancing duo, Scott & Tessa. Coincidentally, Scott is going to be one of the many celebrities that will be participating in the celebrity match on the Start.ca Community Sheet.

Some of the wonderful advantages of living in a small town were that you knew everyone by name, you were never bored, and everyone always seemed to help you out when you needed it. It was kind of like having a large support net. I have so many wonderful stories about growing up in Ilderton, but I would like to share one of them in particular with you.

When I was 22, I was living and working in Toronto, but travelling home most weekends. My father had been diagnosed with cancer was given a few months to live.

It was a chaotic, confusing, and exhausting few months. While my dad lay in the hospital, my brother and I were tasked with moving our parents’ things from their home (my childhood home) to a new property, five houses down the street. It seemed an overwhelming mountain of a task given the emotional weight of everything, but we dug in, and reached out to our friends in the area to ask for help. When we woke up the next morning, I think there must’ve been 20 families that had arrived with their trucks, hoping to help.

Many hands make light work. They quickly organized themselves into groups. A group of women and men in each house; a group loading; unloading and moving 22-years of an entire families’ stuff from one home to the next. The younger men were literally picking up couches and mattresses and carrying them down the street. By 1pm that afternoon, I walked through the empty house I grew up in, alone. The echo of each footstep bringing on a lifetime of memories.

I walked into the new home expecting a week of organizing ahead. Instead, I walked into a house that was filled with laughter. Every box had been emptied. Every room was set-up as if it had been that way for years. There, in the centre of the living room, a comical scene was unfolding; a group of farmers moving furniture and pictures around, playfully arguing about what should go where. They had to experience it, to make sure the Feng Shui was just perfect for my mom and dad. I knew in that moment that I would never be alone because I had this incredible community that I could lean on when in need. By 2pm that afternoon, my parents’ new house had been turned into a home.

Stories like this remind me of the importance of giving back to the community. I feel so thankful that Start.ca provides me with opportunities to volunteer and get involved. I help where I can, when I can, in any way I possibly can. This is my way of giving back to the communities that have given so much to me over the years.

I am looking forward to spending some time with my friend Scott Moir at the Continental Cup. It’s serendipitous that he is a guest celebrity at the event where the company I work for is the Community Sponsor. After all, it seems like not that long ago I was watching a teenage Scott Moir carrying my parents’ couch down the street with his brothers on a hot day in the summer of 2001. That time, nearly 20 years ago, will always be one of the most extraordinary examples of a community coming together that I have ever experienced.

 

Janet Smith 

Start.ca Marketing Manager 

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