Young woman smiles brightly while wearing a yellow Steps for Life T-shirtIn Stellarton, Nova Scotia, on January 14, 1952, John Mailman died in a coal mine gas explosion. His son was only 18 months old. The community rallied around his widow, providing support in any way they could, but Elaine Mailman wishes that an organization like Threads of Life had been available to support her grandmother at the time. Elaine says, “There would have been a disconnect on the emotional level of how to support her … she would have benefited from an organization like this. I’ll be dedicated to an organization like this, because she was amazing, and I don’t know what my life would have been like had my dad’s life been different, had his dad still been there”.

Elaine first heard about Threads of Life while completing the Occupational Health and Safety program at the Nova Scotia Community College when a volunteer from the Threads of Life Speaker’s Bureau shared her personal story of losing her dad to a workplace fatality. “My first impression of Threads of Life was that there was great value in the education of hearing people’s stories first hand. Watching this woman talk about her father, about the accident, how she was left feeling … watching the people in the room listening to her, hearing it in a different way because of the education I was receiving at the time, noticing that her story will impact everyone in the room, even just the slightest bit, whether right away or 10 years from now, my first impression was in the value that those types of talks can bring to a group of people”.

In an effort to show her support, Elaine first attended the Halifax Steps for Life event in 2017 and by 2019 she found herself stepping up to volunteer as a co-chair for their planning committee. “Walking up the stairs (to the meeting) I was nervous, but then walking into the room I immediately felt like I was welcome … having a sense of community is really important”. Now in 2022, she still holds the co-chair position. “The most rewarding part is knowing that we are raising money to be able to support families, knowing that every dollar we bring in is going to help”.

Elaine is excited about being able to return to an in-person Steps for Life event in Point Pleasant Park on May 7, 2022. “Last year we did a virtual opening ceremony. It all came together in this incredible way, but I like getting together and going for a walk, being in the community and bringing like-minded people together.” Elaine is excited to be able to see everyone in one place again and to know that the park-based outdoor event is possible despite the challenges of the last two years.

Having grown up in a household that was impacted by a workplace fatality, Elaine often wonders how her life would have been different. “I work as a Safety Officer, so my whole life is about prevention, literally every single thing I do is to prevent someone from getting hurt at a workplace”. When asked why she volunteers to organize the annual Steps for Life event to support Threads of Life programs and services, Elaine shared that “knowing that we are raising money for a charity that does this type of work and is able to give support to people is important to me. It makes me proud to volunteer”.

Christine Kennedy-Babineau
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