Dealing with a diagnosis with courage and conviction

As I listened to Donna speak about her volunteering at her home in an apartment building for seniors, I realized, this is more than a social coordinator role. More than returning pop cans for a fundraiser to buy stuff. Donna has expanded the her role to fulfil a personal mission: to give people living in her building, a purpose.

Donna invests her time to organize social events and fundraisers for causes that directly affect the tenants in her building and also to help the community of Niagara. Donna described many of the wellness issues that are certainly common world wide – isolation, lack of purpose and depression. As well, barriers to mobility and loss of independence are issues, that have a bearing on functioning within a society. Donna has chosen over the past two years, to take on the role to create a healthier community that has purpose for the greater good. As Donna described who has received monies from recycling cans, batteries, donations, etc., it appeared to me as a vision for a vibrant community. No easy task for one person!

With thoughtfulness and caring, Donna described where monies were given: A United church that provides support for 300 homeless people downtown St.Catharines; an animal rescue shelter farm in Crystal Beach; Salvation Army soup kitchen; all desperate for money.

Her community now has a fund to support various activities and needs, not covered within a long term budget. Donna spoke of a social room that will be undergoing much needed renovations.

Donna has taken one role that is extremely time consuming with organizing details for people activities and fundraising responsibilities, to achieve a positive impact on her community. Imagine a society where more people who were blessed with time, could dedicate themselves to a mission beyond the tasks but adding to the vibrancy of community?

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

Coretta Scott King

In this conversation, I was truly inspired to share her mission. I asked for her permission to share this story of community. Donna gave me a mega watt smile and said, “ I would be happy for you to write about this”.

Donna has courageously made big changes in her life. Her personal journey includes the diagnosis of Dementia, 5 years ago. Donna had noticed some memory lapses. Receiving the diagnosis from her doctor, Donna was determined to have as much independence as she could with a future unknown. Donna sold her beloved home and made a decision based on safety for her future choosing the option of living independently with built in supports, if and when needed. How amazing that she has made such big life decisions and now uplifting others while navigating her own wellness.

photo of Author with Donna

The world is brighter for good people like Donna doing good things for our community. I personally know Donna as a borrowed mother figure. I have known her since attending Brock University and renting a room in our house. Her heart has always been wide open to helping others. Her house was always a stopping point for family and friends for a coffee or a celebration meal.D