Mary Ellen Edlington finds it’s not always easy meeting people when you move to a new neighbourhood in Sarnia.
So she decided to do something about it.
Edlington and her family moved into their new home on Lizucha Drive near St. Patrick’s High School about a year ago.
They used to live in Toronto where they readily met new friends.
“In Toronto, so many people are new and they are looking to meet others,” said Edlington. “In Sarnia, people are very nice but many have been here a long time and it’s more difficult to meet them.
“We’re all busy and we can just drive into the garage and go into the house, never seeing anyone.”
This spring, Edlington, who is an internationally accredited coach, facilitator and trainer, took action.
She distributed flyers and invited her neighbours to her house on a Sunday afternoon to help assemble hygiene kits destined to be distributed to displaced people in the Ukraine.
“I had attended a Sarnia-Lambton United Way workshop on collective impact,” she explained. “It looked at how we create change and the importance of creating strong communities.”
“The idea is not to be in people’s faces. It’s more about neighbours helping neighbours.”
Edlington’s mother-in-law, Lynda Edlington, sewed 100 cloth bags and donations of soap, hand towels, toothbrushes, combs and nail clippers were requested from local businesses.
“It really blew me away with how quickly local businesses got on board,” said Edlington. Slipacoff Dental Centre, Fleck Law, Dr. Joan Ross, Central Beauty Supply and an anonymous dental office contributed. The Edlingtons made up any shortfall.
Forty neighbours came to help assemble the kits.
“It was a great day of connecting,” said Edlington. “We were hoping for more but we’re going to continue to build community by pursuing more projects.”
A few weeks later, she delivered the hygiene kits to the Mennonite Central Committee in Kitchener for shipment overseas.
Edlington said she realizes it could take time but she wants to live on a street where people know their neighbours.
“I don’t want anyone to say they don’t know the people around them. I want them to love their street.
“We all need community to be that much more healthy and vibrant.
“And it often needs to be something we build with intention. Otherwise, we just get stuck with whatever happens.”