Smiles and Stories: How Jenna Met Michaela
For the few weeks of sunshine we get in beautiful British Columbia, I like to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Since I started here at the beginning of July, I have been using my lunch breaks to soak up some sun and enjoy Semiahmoo House Society’s beautiful patio area. Most days, I eat lunch alone but am always pleased to have the company of a friendly participant. So I was excited when Michaela settled herself across from me at the table and sparked up a conversation. I was in awe of her confidence to approach me and her willingness to talk to me as if we had already been friends for many years. I complimented her shellac nail polish and she began to ask me a series of questions that no one in my personal life had cared enough to ask me before.
I was truly challenged to think about why I had been passionate about things like international development and social change from such a young age. It came as a surprise to me that someone was curious to understand why I disagreed with the management practices at my former place of employment. As I answered each of her questions, Michaela listened eagerly and intently, genuinely curious to hear my answer. It had not even occurred to me that it was a good idea to interview Michaela for my blog as I was simply interested in understanding her for my own curiosity. I then laughed to myself thinking that this was not the way it normally goes and I should instead be the one questioning her.
When I actually did get around to doing so, I discovered that Michaela had many remarkable talents, hobbies, goals and passions. She shared with me the many programs and activities she has been involved in starting with gymnastics and bowling for the Special Olympics. We discussed the joys and stresses of being a hostess at a restaurant as this is the role Michaela has at White Spot currently. She has a second job at Staples, has done countless speeches on behalf of the Special Olympics and was proud to be involved in the creation of beach-accessible wheelchairs with the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo.
I was introduced to Michaela’s genuine compassion when I discovered that in her spare time she volunteers at Evergreen Baptist Seniors Home. There, she brings communion to seniors who cannot get it themselves, all of whose names she is proud to remember by heart. I realized I had foolishly failed to acknowledge that people who need support can offer it too. At the end of the day, we all need some form of support and we are all able to support others in some way as well. We all have something precious we can offer someone else, whether it be a hand-up, a meal, company, communion, or even just a smile and a story.
By Jenna Sangha, Summer Student at The Semiahmoo Foundation
UNITI is the partnership of three affiliated societies that have provided important community services for decades. Semiahmoo House Society provides quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in Surrey and White Rock. Peninsula Estates Housing Society provides affordable and inclusive housing that reflects the diversity of our community. The Semiahmoo Foundation assures that UNITI has the recognition, relationships and resources to support an inclusive community. Together we’re stronger!