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Thanks for the year gone by... and the one ahead

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Yasameen Sultani, sister Laleh Sultani and their mom, Robin Pinder, are pictured here in happier times. The loss of their “stuff” means nothing, they say. The generosity of community is humbling.

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Yasameen Sultani, sister Laleh Sultani and their mom, Robin Pinder, are pictured here in happier times. The loss of their “stuff” means nothing, they say. The generosity of community is humbling. Photo Store

Here we are in January — on the heels of the holidays, in the grip of record-setting cold and I can’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude.

I am blessed to have a wonderful family (dysfunction and all), a warm home and an abundance of all the things we need, not to mention an ample supply of things we don’t (aka "stuff"). I have much to be thankful for — for friends and neighbours; for heartfelt waves through frosted windows; for the opportunity to share stories and ideas, and; for you, my readers, for your comments, questions, story suggestions, and of course, for reading!

I am grateful, too, for community. As I turned the pages of the calendar to the new year, I couldn’t help but reflect on events of 2013. Among all the wonderful memories, there were challenges, too.

Westwood experienced the unspeakable sadness of young lives cut short. Then there were friends and neighbours who suffered illness or injury, experienced job loss or grieved the passing of loved ones. Through it all, the compassion and support of community was and continues to be, a beacon of hope and healing.

Strength of community is something Robin Pinder and her daughters Yasameen, 14, and Laleh Sultani, 9, now know firsthand. While out at the  Ecole Robert Browning concert Dec. 17, a fire in their townhouse (and the resulting smoke damage) destroyed almost all their belongings. The family spent Christmas with family in Edmonton — a trip planned even before the fire — and returned to find an interim home in the same complex. Robin says she is truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, from the landlord, restoration workers, neighbours, friends and co-workers and from her faith family... even Laleh’s school offered help.

Robin says she is beyond grateful. She encourages anyone who wishes to help to pay it forward by making a donation to a charity of their choosing or to Siloam Mission or the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre. Anyone wishing to contact Robin can email her at 9robin9@gmail.com

For Robin and her girls, for families of loved ones lost, indeed for all of us, the New Year represents a new beginning. May 2014 bring us all many things to be thankful for.

Sharon Pfeifer is a community correspondent for Westwood. You can contact her at sdrinteractive@shaw.ca

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