Living the Vision: Shirley’s Story

Community Members at The Stop's Good Food for All Festival

The Vision: Being aware of colonization and unequal power and privilege, we practice self-care, openness, empathy, and non-judgment to cultivate a community where we feel accepted, supported, and have the freedom and opportunity to express ourselves and engage with each other and our community. By taking positive action and sharing knowledge we will strive towards and leave a legacy of wholeness, equality, and social justice.” — Community Action Training 2017

Misty and Shirley (right), Community Advocates

The Community Action Training vision inspires me. In July 2017, I felt privileged to complete the training and become a Peer Advocate at The Stop. It is rewarding to be a small part of a group that is working for values I share. I strive to “walk the talk.”

I’m particularly moved by the invitation in the Advocacy Program brochure: “Have a problem? You don’t have to face it alone.” I believe this is at the heart of what makes advocacy effective. We often judge ourselves harshly for our problems and may isolate for fear of being judged by others.

It is a great comfort to be able to share with people who have “been there” or, maybe not there exactly, but, somewhere similar. The lived experience of peer advocates proves invaluable in being understood and providing another perspective. When I and others have shared our issues, I’ve been relieved to discover it is not necessarily our inadequacies at fault, but systems that do not always have our best interests in mind and at heart. Being aware of how these systems work can help us to stop blaming ourselves for not living an elitist definition of success.

Support can turn an insurmountable mountain into a manageable hill.  That’s why we are here. Non-judgmental support lifts us up and moves us forward.

It is my personal opinion that the real change we seek toward a more just society will come from valuing each other equally, supporting and helping each other, and by making people and the environment more important than corporate profit.

One advantage that advocates posses is the access to information and resources and, as stated in the Vision above, sharing that knowledge and those resources is key to finding solutions and creating change. In that spirit, advocates have decided to make their newsletter available to the general public via a link on The Stop web site. Knowledge is power! It is our hope that you will find the information useful and share it widely.

Have a problem? You don’t have to face it alone. Peer advocates are here and willing to help. We look forward to meeting you. We aspire to living the vision.

Shirley Berry
Community Advocate