“Joy of Nothing”
Sometimes I forget how completely lucky I am. The other day while riding the bus downtown with some of our participants, I watched a woman with her two small children. She looked exhausted as she attempted to calm them, reminding them to sit down; I could hear the frustration in her voice at times. As our ride continued, I watched as she became more aware of our participants around her. She watched them say hello to her children. She watched them try to help her calm her crying son by making silly faces and saying “it’s okay, don’t cry”. Then I watched. I watched her body physically relax as she admired our participants. I watched her smile as she witnessed our participants laugh, hug each other, vocally share their excitement and eagerly look out the window at the buildings and people going by. I watched such a beautiful revelation. When our gazes finally met, she said, in the sweetest and most sincere way, “It’s so great they are able to appreciate the ordinary things in life; we all need to do more of that.”
Not everyone reacts this way. I used to get upset when I met people who make it clear that they ‘feel bad’ for the people I support. You can see it in their face and hear it in their voice. Those poor people. But in recent years, I no longer get upset. Instead, I simply ‘feel bad’ for those who feel that way. “Those poor people” are some of my very best friends and teach me to appreciate the small things in life every single day. I am so lucky to have them in my life. I am so lucky to have friends who do not judge other people, who are so strong, despite the challenges they face, who show so much love to others, and who make my heart feel more full then I ever thought possible.
One of my favourite artists, Foy Vance, wrote a song called “Joy of Nothing”. There is something about finding the joy in absolutely nothing. Something we all need to strive to find daily. A special thank you to all our participants for making this so easy for me. I wish everyone was able to experience this kind of joy.
Stephanie, A.I.M. Kitchener Staff
“I came to Canada, as an immigrant from Gambia West Africa. Knowing how important it is to gain local experience, I started looking for volunteer opportunities. This led me to my contact with Community Placement Centre who helped me through the volunteer process. I applied to many places but AIM was the first to positively respond.
I have been volunteering at AIM for a while now and this has been an awakening and inspirational period for me. My late dad was a traditional healer and this work also helps me to reconnect with what he does.
I participant in different activities, from helping in monitoring participants, to playing games, craft work, cooking to doing dishes. This is a beautiful experience for me. People with special needs back home are viewed very differently and there are no such opportunities for them. I am looking forward to sharing this experience someday with authorities of my country and even contributing to working on such projects later in the future in my community back home. AIM staff and participants are amazing.”
Matida, Former Volunteer at AIM
My AIMazing Job
“I started working at AIM in March, 2015. I would never have thought that AIM would have such a profound effect on my life. The participants have become family to me and have awaken something inside me that is truly special. They have taught me so much about myself, about acceptance, strength, gratefulness, and so much more. The pure love they give me every day fills my heart so full. I have seen so much growth in each and every one of the participants and I pride myself in the fact that I had a small part in their growth. AIM has not only enriched the participant’s lives but it has enriched mine too. I look forward to going to work every day and seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter. I consider myself very blessed to have these AIMazing people in my life. I only wish everyone could experience the kind of joy, love and happiness that AIM has brought into my life. I continue to learn, grow, teach and be taught on a daily basis at AIM. I look forward being a part of AIM’s continuing growth and I’m excited to see what the future will bring.”
Rose, A.I.M. Kitchener Staff
“I enjoyed cleaning the park and have picnic and sit near the creek. We are AIM Park Ambassadors and pick up garbage. Make sure the park is clean and play at park. The park is called Petro Canada Park.”
Heather, A.I.M. Participant
My Days at A.I.M.
“Since I got to AIM program in Oakville every Friday starting in February, I feel like having social with my friends, especially Heather G. and W., Richard and Riley. We have several trips we went there like hanging out at Farmers Market in Hamilton. I used to help people who have troubled talking a lot in a conversation every so often. Sometimes I get stuck on other things rather than being in the real world. We worked together by setting up the E-waste room for every weekend. We also checked out garden outside by watering them and taking care of them.
In the summer, we went on the quiet boat ride and we saw animals in the pond and houses that damaged during the flood. It was awful and we were surprised and shocked! At meal times we baked goods like oatmeal cookies and they were delicious. At special Olympics tournaments, my AIM friends came to cheer me on in Brampton and I missed them.
After AIM program, I always feel exhausted that I had busy days. I decided to come back to the AIM program and do more activities again.”
Adam, A.I.M. Participant
Fun at A.I.M.
“I enjoying Steffani’s Birthday we had amazing cupcakes. I had fun at yoga this Tuesday and I put garbage out Wednesday morning. We did cleaning. I had fun hang out with AIM friends. I had great time when we visiting the dog. Bonnie and I we had to put grocerys away, that was funny. I have a great time at Spring Social. We say the S word (snow) at AIM, that is funny. We cleaned at the Lighthouse and had water and cleaned the blocks. We did the zombie dodgeball and say thank you to James.”
Evan, A.I.M. Participant
Summer Student Story
“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you” – Wayne Dyer.
“Since I can remember, my mom has always had this quote posted on our fridge. This saying truly came to life with me these past few months. During my placement at AIM, one of our participants was injured in a fall at her home. I observed all of the concerned looks, questions and homemade cards that came in and out. When the participant returned, I was truly touched by the warm hugs and happy smiles to see her return to AIM. And I thought, what if we all had the capacity to love this deeply? Without judgement, without question and without ridicule. To be able to love each and every individual for who they are and to be able to empathise so deeply with each individual in any situation. The ability to forgive and forget without holding grudges and loving so deeply… This capability is such a gift that each of us could use more of in this world. So, thank you to AIM for teaching me one of the most valuable lessons I will ever learn, how to truly love and accept.”
Kara, Summer Student Placement
“This unassuming young man came to AIM as a Conestoga nursing placement student last year. Sagar was a very gentle and quiet young man, who seemed a little unsure at first. Within a few weeks the changes that came over him were very visible. He had found his place and was very attentive and comfortable in his role at AIM. It was evident he was a very special person with special abilities. The ability to calm the participants and gain their trust with such gentleness. Sagar would walk in the room and greet every single participant personally and the same when he left and make it a point to say goodbye. Nothing phased him. He took whatever we threw at him and handled it well. Sagar radiates such a genuine love and care for our participants. We cannot say enough positive things about this young man. His parents should be so proud of the young man they have raised. The world is a better place with Sagar in it and AIM is so fortunate to have him in ours. Sagar will be an amazing nurse and wherever he ends up they will be truly blessed.”
Rose, A.I.M. Kitchener Staff