Patti at OPCA AGM 1

Patti Penny spoke recently at the AGM for the Ontario Petroleum Contractors’ Association

I chose to become a speaker with Threads of Life so that I may tell of the workplace incident that happened with our son Luke, May 19, 2010. I do not want any other family to have to go through the heartache and destruction that our family has had to endure. I want people to be aware of the things that could happen. I am not one for public speaking but these incidents are too important not to share in hopes that we will be able to create some kind of culture change in the way of everyone’s thinking while at work.

The first one or two events that I was booked for, I cancelled through the Threads of Life office.  I was too nervous and upset to speak.  I did not think that anyone would really want to hear the story of our son, or what I had to say.  Even though I knew this was an important subject, I still had a large fear of speaking to people that I didn’t know or that didn’t know Luke.  Absolutely no confidence in myself what-so-ever.

I would like to share with you that I did go to the next booked event, what happened that day, and how very fortunate I was on this, my first speaking event.  The co-ordinator and all of his people in this health and safety meeting were very friendly, compassionate and understanding to me and my story.  Oh yes, the nervousness was horrible, did I really think that I could do it? The sweating, the stomach, and all that goes with public speaking for most, if not all of us.

There were about 50 people whom I was speaking to, when I went up to the podium and spoke.  There was not a sound, or movement in the room, everyone was listening intently.  I looked up a couple of times to see that I was getting my point across.  Some of them had tears, as well as myself. When I finished, I exited the room only to have to sit down as the shakes were so bad I thought I would fall down. The co-ordinator followed me out. Gave me a huge hug and sat down with me. His words to me were ones that I will never forget, “What an impactful story you have. You were amazing. To get up and talk about your son and what happened takes so much courage. I could not even imagine what you have gone, and are still going through. I was looking around the room and I know you had everyone’s attention all through your story. This will be with them for a very long time and the impact this had on them. However unfortunately, you may never know, years down the road with them sharing it, I guarantee that your words may save someone from this type of devastation in their family or someone else’s. We all thank you so much.” He also said “The passion and the tears tell all of us how much you loved your son and that will never disappear.” Many others came and said thank you as well.

So when I do speak now, however the outcome of the event, I remember these words and I know that I am doing what I need and want to do. He did give me the courage to keep speaking and  informing people of things that can or might happen in the workplace.

So to those that are speakers or wish to become a speaker, remember we do make a difference and will continue to do so.


Patti Penny
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