On a century family farm on the 9th concession, the eldest girl in a family of eight had her heart set on helping others. Borne by her mother’s inaccessibility to higher education, Evelyn McDonald became a nurse, attending the respected St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Cornwall, Ontario. Thankfully, she wasn’t alone in her quest. Her dear sister, Marina enrolled at the same time where they were able to share experiences, and give each other strength.
Following her mother’s spiritual nature into their career, Evelyn would go pray for the dying patients in the evenings, saying they might be your father-your mother-your sister. Of the decades of sacred relationships built amongst the elders in her care, stands the test of a full and human heart.
Some miles south in Saint Andrew’s West, Wilfred Maloney was one of 11 children living through The Great Depression. At a time when children knew and accepted the facts of life, Wilfred had responsibilities before and after school. His mother Stella was both a school teacher and a good cook, who taught her children the value system of treating people well, and how not to abuse money.
No stranger to a day’s work, Wilfred held trades in construction and even grading eggs at McPhail’s store in the town centre. He very possibly knew every single one of our parents and grandparents, serving as a millhand at Howard Smith and Domtar Fine Papers for some 35 years.
When he and Evelyn married, they kept a farmer’s garden for canning and preserves but the intake of breath to flowers was a whole other country. Between Evelyn’s work, raising four children, baking pastry, and flower arranging, the two were members of the Williamstown Horticultural Society for many, many years.
Carol Anne Maloney grew up on the Glen Road in a farmhouse. As a child, Carol Anne did Highland Dancing and embroidery, but reading was her passion. She loved the feeling of entering the Library with its old-world sense of wonder and charm!
This first-hand practical experience of life gave her an understanding of the human condition not found in textbooks.
When Carol Anne attended the University of Guelph in 1983, she did so for its rural values. Enhancing the quality of life for others was so instilled in her growing up, that it was an easy choice. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Family Studies, Carol Anne returned home and promptly lost focus. After working some retail jobs, she started volunteering at Tri-County Literacy Counsel in Cornwall, Ontario and met some wonderful people, just like herself.
When an opening appeared for a Coordinator of Volunteers position, Carol Anne applied and was accepted.
Described as a broad degree for the holistic needs of the individual, Carol Anne’s Bachelor of Applied Science encompassed nutrition, family studies, and psychology. Sponsored by the Ministry of Labor, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Tri-County must enter 234 students each year.
In the 1st step, participants are assessed to find out what Literacy Level they’re at. Unlike a traditional classroom setting, all programs are interactive. Presently, there are 24 matches, meeting at a location and time convenient to both.
According to statistics, 49% of Canada’s adult population scored below high-school literacy levels this year. Some may not be aware that people who struggle with literacy use coping strategies. They rely on other people, technology, and memorization. Over time, emotions like shame and fear make people think they’ve made the biggest mess of their lives, and there’s no hope.
At any given time, people from all walks of life feel they’ve lived in reverse: feel they should have grown up and matured, grown emotional muscle and had a life, when Wikipedia describes a late bloomer as someone of latent capabilities not yet visible to others until later in life. Whether a late bloomer or an introvert, we all have value.
Of a random generation, one may wonder how many flowers to people have been saved by the likes of Carol Anne, Evelyn, or even Wilfred, whose favorite hobby of meeting people remains as clear today as yesteryear.
It is said that skills in Adaptability & Resilience, help people focus on a practical sense, and have more self-confidence everywhere they go.
In the wisdom of teacups, it’s freedom itself.
Seen through the eyes of its participants, Carol Anne’s ability to bring the best out in everyone is something to see come graduation day, with cake, photographs, and awards.
Whether tall of stature or birthed of twinkling starlight, the sense of belonging is tangible in the hearts of all who believe.
Copyright October 2023 © ~ Story for January 2024