Local residents find hope in nature and faith

Suicide Action Wilmot Wellesley’s video shows where the community finds hope during times of personal struggle


  • Feature   Thu, Dec 2nd, 2021   Nigel Gordijk
The changing of the seasons gives hope to farmer and Wilmot councillor Jenn Pfenning. “The world changes. Nothing stays the same.” (Photo: from video)


The changing of the seasons gives hope to farmer and Wilmot councillor Jenn Pfenning. “The world changes. Nothing stays the same.” (Photo: from video)


In times of need, where do you find hope?

That was the question that Suicide Action Wilmot Wellesley (SAWW) asked the community in November.

Sir Adam Beck P.S.’s principal Rebecca Bearinger Fay finds hope “in the beauty of nature, and the promise of a new day. I find it in the joy of children, and I find it in the support of people who are there for me, in a reminder that no matter how hard things are, I’m never alone.”

Several people rely on faith and prayer, such as Kathy Loree. “I pray for strength to get through whatever I’m facing. Sometimes during bad nights, I’m reminded that no matter what, the sun will rise in the morning, on a new day.”

Clarence Cachagee said, “When I think of hope, it’s about looking at something and striving for something that will make me better, that will make creation better, and that will make the community a better place to live.”

What gives Wilmot councillor Angie Hallman hope are people “who are actively showing up and being kind and being gracious and setting a better example for the next generation.”

Her council colleague Barry Fisher said that he remembers to be appreciative. “In times of need, I find hope in gratitude. Being grateful for even the smallest things can bring awareness of how blessed you are.”

More than 20 residents sent their responses in the form of videos that were compiled and shared online on Nov. 24, the date when SAWW would have hosted its annual fundraising breakfast.

Instead, for the second year, the organization opted to produce a community video, which was shared on Facebook.

Marietta Wagler chairs SAWW, a collaboration between Interfaith Counselling Centre, Wilmot Family Resource Centre, and various community representatives. She said that they plan to return to an in-person event next year, but producing the video was a way for people to feel connected.

“Because we made the decision to postpone our Mental Health Suicide Awareness breakfast until November 2022, we wanted to bring encouragement to our community. It’s been a particularly long and discouraging road for many. Isolation has exacerbated mental health issues.”

SAWW was formed 14 years ago following three deaths by suicide in Wilmot over the 2007 Thanksgiving weekend. Its mandate is to remove the stigma of suicide and provide support for those who were grieving. That need still remains, said Wagler.

“We are a community in mourning. We are surrounded by the death of loved ones, a drug crisis, increased homelessness, isolation from family and friends. Life has changed for all of us. Nothing seems to be as it was, and we are grieving, trying to help our children and elderly navigate the ‘new normal’, grieving what once was comfortable (and) doing it mostly alone.”

Making the Hope video shows that there is still much to hope for, she said.

“SAWW wanted to find a way to bring hope to our community, to remind people that signs of hope are all around us, in our own lives. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize them, grasp them, and believe them. We can help each other see where their hope lies.”She stressed that “where there is life, there is hope,” and that everyone has varying degrees of struggles. “It is during these struggles that a crack appears, and the light starts to come in. That is hope. We can help each other,” she said.

Wagler personally finds hope in several of the ways that video contributors touched on.

“For me, it’s the things we often take for granted. A new life, a crocus pushing through the snow, being with children and hearing their laughter, family and friends, and mostly my faith. Believing there is a higher power in control and all will be okay.”

Linnea Knight finds hope “by grounding myself and taking in all the nature around me.” (Photo: from video)


Linnea Knight finds hope “by grounding myself and taking in all the nature around me.” (Photo: from video)