Connecting a community through acts of kindness
It’s free, painless, and the smallest amount can make a world of difference.
It’s kindness — and Pat Weibelzahl of You’ve Gotta Have Friends, is hoping that Langley residents will give generously this month.
YGHF will host a ‘Kindness Connects’ week, from May 26-30, but the organization’s goal is that the sentiment will continue throughout the rest of the year.
“(Kindness) feels good for everyone and it’s the first step toward friendship,” said Weibelzahl, co-coordinator of the non-profit community-based organization that looks for opportunities to promote connections and inclusion within the Langleys.
“This year, our focus is on heightening the awareness of how kindness connects people and encourages a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging in our community.”
Along with her colleague, Janice McTaggart, Weibelzahl joined YGHF eight years ago. In that time, she’s met numerous people who are isolated and without connections in the community.
It might be that they are new in town, recently divorced, aging or perhaps they’ve had an accident.
“Their supports fall away and it’s difficult to connect,” she said.
A lot of the people who come to YGHF events have developmental disabilities, noted Weibelzahl.
“That’s a whole other ball game. They may have a caregiver and family, but no friends.”
Working under the auspices of the Langley Association for Community Living, YGHF is funded through the United Way, community grants and private donations.
Each Wednesday and Friday, YGHF opens its doors in McBurney Lane from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. People are invited to stop by for a visit and maybe meet some potential new friends.
“It gets loud and rowdy in here,” chuckled Weibelzahl.
“We like to have fun. It’s part of our actual mandate.”
YGHF also offers a full calendar of events each month.
Community members are invited to take part in a supper club, a book club, group breakfasts, youth gatherings and a men’s group, to name just a few opportunities.
The agency also organizes social outings. A visit to a quilt show and the bloom market are among the events scheduled for May.
Weibelzahl wants to see You’ve Gotta Have Friends’ spirit of inclusivity, coupled with genuine good will, spread throughout the wider community.
During Kindness Connects week, they will be at local businesses, giving away stickers and raising awareness.
“We hope to have up to 20 organizations/businesses on board where we will spend an hour or two greeting people and handing out stickers,” Weibelzahl said.
“We’ll approach business and ask them to allow us to be there and spread awareness.
“It’s pretty simple actually,” she said.
“We want to get people to be mindful. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.”
The week’s events will wrap up with a dance in McBurney Plaza, featuring live music from The Timewalkers, on Friday evening, May 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
During Kindness Connects week, YGHF and the Langley Times are inviting members of the public to share their own true stories about acts of kindness by writing a letter.
Letters can be dropped off at the You’ve Gotta Have Friends office, located at 20510 Fraser Hwy. in McBurney Lane, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please tag the letters “Kindness Connects.”
They will be published in the Langley Times print edition and posted on the newspaper’s website and Facebook page during Kindness Connects week.