When I think of my different experiences I have had working with Mainstream this past year, one that stands out to me is the development of a friendship between Bonnie and Arlene. Once in passing Bonnie had made mention that she would like to spend time with, as she put it, ‘that lady who talks a lot”. I suggested that she and Arlene could set up a lunch/coffee date and she said that this was something she would like to do. At the time I was surprised as Bonnie does not often want to spend time with specific people and, from my understanding, she and Arlene were not exceptionally close. When they met for lunch they seemed to be a perfect pairing. Throughout the year, whenever I saw an opportunity to connect the two ladies, I would do so. They had coffee dates, went out for breakfasts and celebrated Bonnie’s birthday together.
One afternoon, while working at the Resource Centre, I asked Arlene if she would like to go out somewhere with a friend. Arlene seemed reluctant and was more interested in going out alone. I suggested that she go visit her friend Bonnie and Arlene jumped at the opportunity. On this particular afternoon, it was clear that Bonnie was having a difficult day. She was visibly upset, crying about a number of things that were bothering her and insisted on staying home. Arlene listened to Bonnie, comforted her and encouraged her to come out as it may make her feel much better.
I stepped aside during their conversation. Arlene continued to encourage Bonnie on her own. Bonnie ended up having a change of heart and decided to come out for a coffee. Both ladies said they had a great time.
Arlene and Bonnie’s friendship is so positive and natural. They both always make a point of saying what a great time they had after meeting up. As support workers, one aspect of our job is to try to create opportunities for people to connect and perhaps form friendships. Often these attempts can feel a bit forced or end up being unsuccessful. Bonnie and Arlene’s friendship is a good example of why is it important to continue to try. Their friendship is a reminder of what a difference it can make when we listen to the little things people say.