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There’s more to the story…

by Fawna Bews

One of the hardest things about community are the people.  Am I right?!  Annoying people, bossy people, lazy people, stuck-up people, judgey people (wink, wink).  And yet, we can’t really have community without them.

One is the loneliest number.


I’ve had the gift of working with traumatized youth most of my adult life. One of the things that has become deeply ingrained is that ‘behavior has meaning’.

The following story from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful people illustrates it perfectly:

I was riding a subway on Sunday morning in New York. People were sitting quietly, reading papers, or resting with eyes closed. It was a peaceful scene. Then a man and his children entered the subway car. The man sat next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to his children, who were yelling, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers.

I couldn’t believe he could be so insensitive. Eventually, with what I felt was unusual patience, I turned and said, “Sir, your children are disturbing people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”

The man lifted his gaze as if he saw the situation for the first time. “Oh, you’re right,” he said softly, “I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

Suddenly, I saw things differently. And because I saw differently, I felt differently. I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior. My heart filled with compassion. “Your wife just died? Oh, I’m so sorry. Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant.

What I know is that if I don’t like someone I probably don’t know enough about them. We definitely give more leeway if we know that someone is struggling or if there is some back story that explains their attitude or behavior. As we talked about last week however, we have a tendency to hide our struggles.  We have a tendency to ‘mind our own business.

I’m not asking you to be “Nosy Nellie,” healthy communities have a healthy respect for privacy.  Privacy is becoming less and less available, upping it’s value.

So what’s the line between telling it all and keeping your mouth shut?  Asking for the details and minding your own business?  It’s more of an art than a science and requires quality communication and positive relationship, something we will be talking about in upcoming blogs.

For now, let’s just take the small step of considering that when someone is behaving in a way that we ‘can’t stand’ or can’t understand – that we could take the stand (in our mind anyway) that “this is fishy, there must be more to the story”.  Trade your judgment for curiosity.  Assume compassion.  Adopt empathy.  What does this mean?

Brene Brown does it beautifully here:


On August 25 (save the date) four of our social profits, businesses created to help people, are celebrating 20 years – 20 YEARS of service to our community.  These agencies know and are allies to the misunderstood.  Working with families affected by fetal alcohol effects, disabilities – both visible and non-visible and young families who need a helping hand (those little people don’t come with an operator’s manual).  These groups help create equity, equity in the home, school and workplace.  They are committed to the skills of interdependence and independence.  Enough big words, they are just flippin’ amazing and have supported thousands of people in the Foothills region.  There businesses have also employed hundreds and as I said on Facebook this week they have created some of our regions most excellent fundraisers.  Golf tournaments, Comicon, Art Shows, Motorcycle Rallies, the Spelling Bee, the long table dinner and so many more.

Danna Ormstrup, Marianne Dickson, Cathy – standing in for Orvella Small and Sue Stegmeier. photo taken by Tom Barker

Each of these agencies was started by a motivated woman.  Each one has had incredible ups and downs navigating the strange and inane world of non-profit work.  You would not believe the hoops you have to jump through for most grants.  Fighting non-stop not only for the rights and good of their clients but also for the funds to pay their employee’s and keep important services going.  Watch here as they tell a little bit of their stories to our Jody Seeley.

Come on out on August 25, let’s celebrate these shero’s, their staff’s and their clients with a big old party in the park.  More than most these organizations know and live ‘there’s more to the story…’

Happy Birthday Literacy for Life

Happy Birthday Special Needs Association for Parents and Siblings

Happy Birthday Wildrose Community Connections

Happy Birthday 101 Centre

These groups are often looking for volunteers – join in on the good (download the Our High River App to see opportunities).

Be a part of a really great story.