Woman with blonde hair hugs person with long brown hair as an older man looks on

Karen Lapierre Pitts, family support manager, hugs a fellow volunteer and family member at the 2015 Volunteer Family Guide training session.

During 2018 you may have noticed a few blogs with a theme of change. In August I wrote about getting comfortable with change on the way to growth. Society gives us the message of change being a frightful thing and we try to think that each day we are doing the usual things. Change gives us the opportunity to reflect and grow. It is very important to reflect at what we have learned and accomplished and for Threads of Life, Emma Morris gave us a lovely short synopsis with Looking back and looking ahead. The title says it all. If you are driving a vehicle, you look in the rear view mirror to see what is behind you, the side mirrors to view what is beside you, but the most important is the window at the front – where you are going. For Threads of Life our 2019 – 2021 Strategic Plan is our forward view and our roadmap. It allows all our staff to look at what they do each day to ensure the tasks are within this plan and guides us to our mission and vision.

For myself these past months, while attempting to fill in also as interim manager for family support, I have been hearing directly from our family members and our volunteers. I have attempted to listen to their concerns and challenges. This time has provided me a renewed sense of energy and commitment of the purpose of why we founded Threads of Life. I have felt that sense of truly being grounded in what we do as I reflected on our roots. You have heard the saying it takes a village to support a family raising children. It is the same with this organization. We have at our heart the family members living with the outcomes of workplace tragedies. Surrounding us are the family members who have taken their unique experience and try to help others by listening, by sharing their story, by creating awareness. The broader support is quite extensive and includes those who help us create awareness, grow our volunteer base, grow our participation, and grow our revenue. We have many partners across Canada, helping us do that and there is room for more. Our house continues to grow. We are thankful for each partner, be that government, employers, health and safety organizations and each donor.

2019 will certainly present us with new challenges and opportunities for growth, which we will rise to meet. When we have a challenge, we have been able to rely upon each other. As staff, we have figured out how to ensure the most important items get proper care. As staff we are well supported by our team of volunteers. This community is what will keep Threads of Life moving towards our mission. We are in the midst of hiring a staff member for Atlantic Canada.

Today is a special day in our community. We welcome Karen Lapierre Pitts as the new manager for family support. Karen is also a family member – her brother Jamie died when he was 21. Karen has been a long time Threads of Life volunteer in a number of roles: Volunteer Family Guide and facilitator for this training, Speakers Bureau volunteer, Steps for Life committee member, workshop facilitator at Family Forums, and a Board member – most recently as chair. Once Karen becomes comfortable in her new staff role, she will be bringing forth some new ideas for the community peer support groups. We are very pleased to have Karen join our staff.

Our year is only beginning. I can only imagine the opportunities we have to grow. Family members will find Threads of Life and with your support they will have a safe place to land. While you provide that listening ear and companion with them at family forums, not only do you provide comfort to them, believe it or not, you are helping yourself and making a difference.

As we welcome Karen to her new staff role, remember all staff at Threads of Life are available to you. This is your organization and staff are here to assist you. I hope you share with others your opportunities for growth in 2019 and reflect back as to how far you have come. The coping skills you reflect back on are the ones that take you forward. What is your strongest coping strategy?

Shirley Hickman
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