Phoenix Youth Shelter Pizza Party and Cookie Decorating

Our 2018 Christmas giving did not stop with our senior community! We decided to get a little more personal with the younger generation. After a wonderful suggestion by Steve Murray, we reached out to the staff of Phoenix Youth Shelter and offered to host a pizza πŸ•party and cookie decorating evening 😊. Olivia would love this!!!

On Sunday, December 16 the Trustees and volunteers brought pizza, chips, fruit and vegetable platters, juice, water and cookies along with all the fixings needed to decorate to Phoenix Youth Shelter in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We got to eat (thank you for the amazing ribs and cole slaw!) chat and share Olivia. We shared why we do what we do with some wonderful people. What a great time! We can’t even begin to explain what an honour it was. Thank you for your questions and the honest, open dialogue that followed.

A great big thank you goes out to Ragan Eagle of Sweet Eagle Bakery for donating the amazing cookies the staff and residents decorated. The delicious cookies were definitely a huge hit! We saw some pretty impressive decorating going on (there may have even been a friendly competition or two πŸ˜‰)

We we also honoured to do up gift bags for the youth staying at the shelter so they have something just for them this Christmas season πŸŽ„. We included a t-shirt and bracelet with Olivia’s Signature Tree in each bag along with some treats and day-to-day items like deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair ties, brushes, gloves, reusable water bottle and more! We also donated bus tickets, MacDonalds gift cards and Tim Hortons gift cards!

We love giving back to organizations that support our youth – it’s exactly where Olivia would want us to focus πŸ’—.

Olivia’s Legacy

As we prepare for our annual Bowling Tournament and Silent Auction fundraiser on May 27th I started to feel like I was letting Olivia down.  I began to sit with this, to try to understand where this feeling was coming from. Here is what I realized. 

There have been very few opportunities to share “Olivia’s Story” with the people I want to reach the most, our youth. (I know Olivia would want others to learn from her mistake, not repeat it). The main way this happens is by being invited in to schools to share her story. I get asked by parents all the time if I would be willing to come to their child’s school and of course I say YES!!!  

However, it is not that easy. It is always a challenge to get administrators to allow “Olivia’s Story” to be heard. My personal belief being they are afraid if students hear her story they will get scared or worse, they will go out do the same…  The fact is, hearing her story will not “make” anyone abuse drugs. This is a very antiquated way of thinking!  This same reason was used when Sex Education was being proposed – if we talk about it, they will do it…  I believe, if we give our youth the correct information to help them develop their critical thinking skills and make safe choices we can only help them, and society as a whole, in the long run. 

As far as being scared, there is no easy, gentle or happy way to tell “Olivia’s Story”. Kids will also be upset they will be sad and they may even cry. And that’s okay. Every parent and educator I have spoken to would rather the kids hear the truth then sugar coat it. 

The fact is kids as young as Grade 5 are experimenting with prescription pain pills. These kids are getting their “facts” from their friends or the Internet!  The dangers of experimenting with pills is not being taught to our students even though there is curriculum in place to assist teachers. However, the new curriculum that addresses prescription pain pills is not an outcome so it does not have to be taught!

So, even though I have not been able to share her story with our students through school presentations I know “Olivia’s Story” has been shared many times in many ways since our last bowling tournament: 

June 2016, CBC News at 6 had a segment which covered the scholarship presentation at Prince Andrew High School which in turn gave me the chance to share why the work of The Trust in memory of Olivia. 

Around Christmas a couple of newspaper articles fr m Wast Hants mentioned The Trust and “Olivia’s Story” which in turn caused increased traffic to our site. 

In March, a short documentary titled “Live On” was created by two wonderful Kings College students, Jess Hirtle and Delaney MacKay. “Live On” was viewed during a documentary showcase on March 24 and will be submitted to the Atlantic Film Festival for a chance to be screened (link will follow at a letter date). 

And over the last several months, coming up to the 5 year remembrance of Olivia’s death, people have been sharing her story via social media either directly or by copying the link to her story from our website while commenting on other stories. I have also spoken directly to many people who have popped in to my workplace. These curious individuals who asked what the items with Olivia’s Signature Tree are for likely got more than they bargained for when I shared the work of The Trust along with “Olivia’s Story” on a very personal level. These wonderful people have then gone home and shared her story with the youth in their lives!  How remarkable is all this?  

Looking back now, having put all that happened in perspective, I can’t believe I ever felt like I was letting my girl down πŸ’—