Brantfordians Share Life-changing Experiences with Belonging Brant

By Maichina Veri

It’s a sunny day at Mohawk Park and the Random Acts of Kindness group has just finished handing out Freezies to folks enjoying the park’s amenities.

They sit at a picnic table with community organizer Jocelyn Birkes to chat about Belonging Brant, the Ontario Trillium Foundation funded project that Jocelyn works for.

True to her personality, Jocelyn asks a series of questions to the group with joy and laughter in her voice.

The sincere, honest, and heartwarming answers she receives shine a light on the value of Belonging Brant to the individuals in the community.

Tina Barkhouse, Matthew Catherwood, Byron Woods, Shelley Johnson and Linda Rosamond begin the interview by taking turns and piping up with answers when asked directly to respond, but it doesn’t take long for them to spill excitement and jump at the opportunity to share about their Belonging Brant experiences.

“A lot of people are lonely out there and need people to be with them and to stand beside them and talk to them and different things.”

They all offer similar answers, stating they appreciate Belonging Brant because they get to meet and support new people, develop a sense of community and spread kindness and love.

Tina, the group leader for Random Acts of Kindness, is grateful for the help organizing her initiative as well as the support she’s received for her book coming out, titled Book of Hope.

Then Linda, who quietly waits to be brought into the conversation, drops a gem that shines so bright for her and those around her by saying, “I was sitting (at) home all alone all the time and I was getting very lonely and depressed. I can’t wait to go to things now.”

Linda participates in many of Belonging Brant’s groups including, Kind Cooks in the Kitchen, A Place to Be, Random Acts of Kindness and Diamond Dots.

The others at the table agree with Linda’s sentiment.

Not only is Belonging Brant great for connecting, it also gives each of them a sense of purpose.

As conversation winds this way and that, not necessarily getting off track, but perhaps switching tracks, words turn to concern for other Belonging Brant friends and community members — particularly those experiencing loneliness and precarious housing.

Byron, who is an excellent host and welcomes all to any event there is, speaks to this by saying, “A lot of people are lonely out there and need people to be with them and to stand beside them and talk to them and different things.”

He then goes on to express concern about a friend facing homelessness, who he met through a Belonging Brant group. Others at the table offer advice and resources to Byron to share with his friend.

The success of Belonging Brant is found in many things — namely, human connection and its benefits — but for continued success, the group at the table agrees funding is needed.

What the folks at the table are willing to offer from their end is participation, time and personal effort. What are you willing to offer?


Be A Newsmaker!

What If Belonging Brant Became a Lasting Community Beacon?

Belonging Brant is already a light in our community. It is the place to be. With three years under our belt and our initial funding coming to an end this October, we have the opportunity to fashion our future anew. We’d love to hear what you’ve loved about Belonging Brant, what you’d like for it to become, and what you might like to do to make that dream come true. Consider taking a few minutes to share your answers to these questions.


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