Truth in Caledon builds community

There are many needs in Caledon that are well hidden so the truth remains well hidden, writes Monty Laskin

 

An early November message from Mayor Allan Thompson congratulated all candidates in the municipal election. He asked us all to, “…look ahead, take all of the passion and ideas that were raised during the election and build our dream of a future Caledon together”.

Excellent advice from a steady prudent leader whose commitment to Caledon runs generations deep. I take our mayor’s advice to heart. At Caledon Community Service, our vision is to build a ‘healthy, engaged, compassionate community for all’. We are also committed to truth.

Mayor Thompson’s message also addressed an important element of recent elections here and south of the border: social media. He shared that it, “…was really tough for me…. to watch the viral spread of negative, hateful and angry messages”. He expressed his wish for governments, “…to do a better job at creating more opportunities for resident’s voices to be heard all the time, not just during elections.”

Mayor Thompson, thank-you for this opening to share a concern that CCS also encounters: uninformed social media as a destructive force. Misunderstanding and misinformation give rise to opinions that inflame situations, often when we should focus on community building and the fact that we all want the same thing! People step up to represent this community, they deserve our thanks. And the dedicated staff at Town Hall and my colleagues working in Caledon’s social services all want the best for this community. I believe this, I know it to be true. It’s a driving force for the entire CCS team and for me every day.

So what’s the point here? Well, there are many needs in Caledon that are well hidden so the truth remains well hidden. Certain stories need to be told. Many people work hard every day to make life better for those in need. I’m blessed to work alongside people who step up when they know the need. And yet, too often we hear the false refrain that there’s no one in need in Caledon. The truth is that there is hardship and misfortune throughout this vast community.

Knowing the hard truths about the needs of the less fortunate in Caledon, and having the full picture of what’s at play in our community, makes for an informed Caledon. Truth and knowledge are vital to making progress on community challenges. Within the context of “fake news” and Trump-style politics that at best are troubling and at worst downright divisive, the full picture always strengthens any community. An intelligent and informed Caledon is one that will make the right moves to ensure a bright future for all of its residents. Different opinions and critical thought are necessary for a healthy engaged community. And keeping compassion in the mix makes for a potent formula for a community’s success.

Behind the beauty in Caledon, poverty is well hidden. CCS serves thousands of residents every month. We know that more than 1,300 low-income families in Caledon face poverty. They are unemployed or in precarious work situations. They live with food insecurity every day. Some can’t afford their heating bills. CCS reaches some of them but not all. Caledon residents in need are often the quietest people in Caledon. Their voices should be heard and their truths shared. CCS listens every day. At this time of year we ask residents, businesses, faith communities, schools, service clubs and so many more groups to listen with us.

Mayoral candidate Barb Shaughnessy expressed the same thought in a recent open letter to Caledon: “You must make sure your voice continues to be heard…all of Caledon needs to work together to find balance.” Spot on! I’d add to this appeal that your voice is most effective when it’s educated and informed. That way, your knowledge is part of the solution to community problems. Knowing the need as the holidays approach allows you to be a difference maker.

CCS’ Santa Fund is launching soon, it is Caledon’s first line of defence in ensuring that no family, individual or child is left behind. If you’ve never donated to the Santa Fund please consider a donation this year https://ccs4u.org/santa-fund/. We appreciate all who make their voices heard and make the Santa Fund a part of their annual holiday tradition. There are so many families in our community who, because of their isolation and challenges, need their voices heard, especially at this time of year. Your generosity makes that happen for thousands of Caledon residents year round.

Monty Laskin is the CEO of Caledon Community Services. Reach him at media@ccs4u.org.

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