Empower Within: Stepping out
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." ~Coretta Scott King
Janice Ormond is Executive Director for Hamilton Out of the Cold hamiltonoutofthecold.ca. She is passionate about the program, its guests and volunteers. She loves to brag about her 3 boys (and little dog) to anyone who will listen and is happiest spending time with family and friends.
I met Janice when I started volunteering with Hamilton Out of the Cold as a breakfast coordinator. Her compassion towards the work that she does in the community radiates from her. She has always empowered me to become aware of the issues within my community and to lend a hand in any way that I can. I wanted to learn more about what empowerment means to her and what empowers her, and this is what she had to say!
It was a challenge to write about empowerment. Empowerment itself is unquestionably a process. It’s not something that happens instantaneously and it’s not necessarily a process that you even recognize is occurring.
Those who know me, know that I regularly exercise on the Chedoke Stairs. For me, it is a place to relieve stress, have self-reflection and encourage strength for body, mind and soul. It is also a place where I have developed friendships through a smile and/or a friendly hello, have enjoyed interesting conversations, have met new and remarkable people from within and around our community.
As I reflected on what empowerment is and what it means to me, I realized that the journey to empowerment is similar to that daily climb on those stairs.
Empowerment is a set of steps, if you will, encompassing different levels which represent different stages in the process. Sometimes that climb will be more difficult, even after having climbed the same steps the previous day. Persistence and perseverance can enable you to reach new stages. The stages leading to empowerment can be composed of small steps of self-awareness, steps to finding and using your voice, realizing that your voice is important and significant as your voice increases in strength and awareness; it enables you to make positive changes for the community and world around you.
Another requirement necessary in the process, however, is that you have a safe, respectful, encouraging environment.
My voice has always been a quiet one. I’ve always been someone who was much more comfortable silently working behind the scenes. Along my journey I was extremely fortunate to have people who encouraged me to speak. I was given safe environments in which I was encouraged to share my ideas and appreciate that my thoughts and words were significant.
Upon realization of one’s own empowerment, it is vital, our duty really, that we create a positive environment in which to encourage others in their own journeys. One step at a time, that’s all it takes. It’s that simple but significant gesture of reaching out our hands to others in encouragement. We will all grow as a society if we allow others to grow in a safe and gentle way; encouraging the unheard voices.
The journey continues…