Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Image description: Angie Nethercott and I beside each other holding our awards
Last night at the banquet hall of a large hotel here in Toronto, Angie and I represented our respective agencies, Hands The Family Help Network and Vita Community Living Services as we received an award for the Direct Support Worker newsletter that we co-edit. It was nice to receive the recognition but it was even nicer to roll around and chat with people, some of whom I have known for 30 years and hadn't seen for 29. Catching up with people, seeing how they are doing and where they are now in their lives was so much fun. Neither Joe or I are highly social people but we both talked and laughed and 'made rather merry.'

So, before the awards were even handed out, we'd had a great time. Both Angie and I ate our meals with a bit of anxiety because it's not easy to get up and get an award and say something meaningful in just a couple of seconds, I freely admit that Angie managed that much better than I did. But we got the award and were able to thank our agencies that support our work on it and continue to believe in the importance of making the information freely available.

I don't often use WheelTrans for other than going to work. I don't often stay up after 8. So I was tired when it was all over, well past bedtime, and we waited in the lobby for the bus. When it pulled up we went out and were loaded on by a driver who was fast, and fun and funny. We were out of there as quick as safety allowed.

There was already someone on the bus heading off somewhere and on the way we stopped an picked up someone else who had been out for dinner with friends. Everyone was quiet on the bus, including Joe and I, all alone with our own thoughts. I was thinking about the evening and how nice it was to receive recognition for the work that we had done. On the top of the award were the words, "Making a Difference." I hope I do. I think we all hope we do.

When we arrived at home, the driver was equally quick and equally funny when getting us off the bus. Joe got off first and I followed. Once down the ramp I turned to him and said, "Thanks for doing what you do, you make my life freer." He looks startled and then said, jokingly, "We're all free, man, we're Canadians." I was on my way into the building as he said this so I just waved and continued on.

But I had meant what I said. His job does make me freer. People need to understand that though work in any kind of human service is a job, it is work, the work has a powerful meaning. In fact, his service does make me freer. WheelTrans isn't just a company, it's a company that makes a city accessible, it grants a freedom to people with disabilities that we wouldn't otherwise have.

And Canada may be Canada but there are many who are not free. Many who still live in institutions, many who, because of lack of services or support, don't have a freedom of movement, many who, in one way or another, are held captive for the crime of needing supports.

I hope he thought about it.

I hope all that do the work to free people, to make community, to create change remember that we are in one huge vast civil liberties movement. We are continually working towards a better freer society. Canada, indeed there isn't a single country in the world, that is presently free ... and no matter how loud we sing our anthems proclaiming our freedom that won't be changed.

But what he did made my life freer.

Because freedom comes in the doing.


clairesmum said...

Congratulations on your award. And thanks for writing, Dave. Freedom is not a word or idea that I usually think about in this way, until today.

Belinda said...

Dave, you have made a difference in my life so profound I hardly know where to begin. Even this blog post touched a place in which God is speaking to me lately. Thank you and never doubt your impact. Joe too.