Why did you choose these words?
Many years ago I was going through a difficult time in my first marriage. I called my mom to seek her wisdom. She asked me five questions that I applied to that situation and began to share with others when it seemed appropriate.
1. Can you change?
2. Can he change?
3. Can you both change enough to meet on a level playing field?
4. In your heart of hearts where do you see yourself in five years?
5. What are you waiting for?
"What are you waiting for?" is how I now live my life. I left my first marriage, and it has helped me to have a great relationship with my husband of 22 years. It makes for a busy and adventurous life that I wouldn’t change for the world.
How do they relate to your experience at the Dr. Peter Centre?
"What are you waiting for" is the DNA of the Dr. Peter Centre.
Peter faced a crisis in his life and from what I understand he approached it with clarity and a sense of purpose, leaving all of us with the message, “What are you waiting for?". In the time he had remaining, he didn’t wait to share his story or make a change. Instead, he saw the need for change and knew that in his heart of hearts he wanted others to be surrounded with love and compassion like he was. He didn’t wait and his action of telling his story helped to give all of those living with HIV/AIDS a message of hope, dignity and respect they had lost.
Shirley and Bob didn’t wait until Peter died to begin to make his dream a reality. With a small group of people, they set up the Foundation headquarters in their basement and just dove right in it and made it happen.
Today, the board, staff and volunteers do not wait. They continue to advance Peter’s vision of caring for people with dignity and respect. By setting up the day health program and residence, people are received where ever they are in their journey without judgment. The Centre integrates nutrition, counselling, music, art, nursing and creates a sense of community to heal the body, mind and soul of each participant. Today, others are looking at the Dr. Peter Centre as a model to move towards. That’s being a leader and taking action.
But most of all, I see program participants choosing to not wait anymore and in doing so, it has changed their lives dramatically. As I get to know the participants, I have come to hear how many of their lives have been filled with great pain, sadness, loneliness. As one participant described, her life was a rollercoaster with extreme highs and deep lows. Somehow they have ended up at the Dr. Peter Centre and all of them will tell you that the Centre saved their life. They are true role models and a constant reminder for me how to face life’s obstacles and see the good that can come from engaging in rather than running from life.
What led you to the Dr. Peter Centre?
I watched from afar. I had friends who cared for and buried their partners, and I witnessed their pain and loneliness. I watched from afar as John Evans raised money to build the Centre. Six years ago my husband worked with the Dr. Peter Centre as they pursued a second site in the Downtown Eastside. Again, I watched from afar. Shortly after that, I completed a “spiritual gifts inventory” and found one of my gifts to be hospitality. I was at a transition in my work career and wanted to find a new avenue to express and share my gift and chose not to watch from afar. I approached Maxine to see how I could get involved. It took time for me to carve out a weekend to do the training but once I walked through the doors of the Dr. Peter Centre, I have never looked back.
What is most important about the Dr. Peter Centre to you?
The Dr. Peter Centre is built on a solid foundation. The Centre has clear principles and pro-active expectations of participants and staff. They invest in staff to carry out effective programming including fundraising, donor communication and recognition. They have a vision for the future and work towards that. They participate in research, engage in the community and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Their philosophy of caring for the whole person no matter where they are in their journey is inspiring. I love that both the clients and staff love, respect and genuinely care for each other. It amazes me how passionate people become once they walk through the doors and hear the story of Dr. Peter and the Centre.
But most of all, it’s Shirley, Dr. Peter’s mom. At 80+ years of age, she is a great role model. Shirley comes in early every Wednesday morning to serve breakfast and gives everyone she sees a hug. She and Bob embody their son’s dream, his vision. They made this place come to life and continue to live their life the way Peter would have lived his.
What would you like people to know about the Dr. Peter Centre?
The Dr. Peter Centre saves lives. People are cared for, truly cared for with food that nourishes, arms that hug, ears that listen, shoulders to cry on, beds to rest in, nurses to guide them, advocates that support them, music to play, friends beside them and a family of love. It’s at the Dr Peter Centre where the healing and living begin.
What would you like people to know about HIV and AIDS?
The good news is that HIV and AIDS is not the death sentence it once was.
The concern is for the young people who have not seen the devastation may not believe they are bulletproof and think that AIDS is no longer a problem.