A different measure of success

A Different Measure Of Success

Opinion Editorial published in Burnaby Now on July 26, 2013

In today’s society we often associate a person’s success with material wealth: expensive clothing, home, vehicle, as well as in one’s education or career choice, and also lifestyle; friends, relationships, pets, not to mention a glowing sense of calmness and happiness, which accompanies a peaceful living.

There are however successes which are equally valued even though they may not be as obvious to others.

Consider for example, here in Burnaby, where a young mother endured financial hardship for many months as a result of her partner’s loss of employment. She was determined to support her family and provide a healthy home, and successfully pursued a college education and a new career.

There is an example of a Burnaby man who returns home after completing a treatment program for alcoholism, and after a brief time of sobriety, he relapses. Yet, determined to live a life independent of alcohol, he goes into treatment a second time—that was some time ago, and has since been living a full and successful life, filled with friends, family, employment, and sobriety.

Also in Burnaby, a young man attends a local program where he’ll receive ‘much needed food’ and expert assistance from the outreach workers. He realizes that a homeless woman would leave hungry as she had arrived after closing, to find the food source was now depleted. Without hesitation, and with concern greater for her wellbeing, then his, he offers his food to her.

A Burnaby man, known for his years of chronic alcoholism and public mischief, publically thanks the outreach workers and  volunteers, for their assistance and support. Not only for his housing needs, but also for caring enough to keep him alive.

Consider other Burnaby citizens, like the man who reunites with his birth family, after being apart for more than twenty years; or a woman, who against all odds finds the strength to enter an addiction treatment program and begin to address life changing issues; a young man who proudly displays his recently acquired fork lift operator certificate, improving his employment opportunities, meanwhile a woman who after years of homelessness, found and maintained personal housing; and a man living in poverty, who gave all of his saved coins, to help a young person in the community to move forward.

Many of these people I’ve described would not likely be viewed by today’s society as successful based on our association with success. However the hope, the compassion, the genuine appreciation for the support from others, the determination to improve their life situation is the inspirational force through which all of these people contribute to a caring community in Burnaby. Through their lives they demonstrate a different measure of success, one which is not outwardly visible and is irrespective of wealth or material possessions. Their success is supported by deeply held values, courage, humanity, dignity and respect for others in spite of constant adversity.

This is indeed a different measure of success.

Submitted by Wanda Mulholland
Community Development Coordinator
Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness


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