Sharing stories reflects the need we have to connect emotionally with others. Stories move us, make us feel alive and inspire us. Very simply, they strike a human chord within us. Click the names below to read personal stories from some of the many people who have joined You've Gotta Have Friends.
Bill (March 9, 2009)
I am 101 years old now and travel around on a motorized scooter. I am still in good health, live independently and try to keep busy. In my effort to keep busy and when the weather is good, I go into town and on one occasion I saw the notice on the window about You’ve Gotta Have Friends. A few days later the office door was open. I went in and found two ladies there who had opened a drop-in establishment for people who don’t have friends.
I have lost a lot of old friends but I do have my family close by so I’m not lonesome but in this effort of mine to keep busy I scooter into the downtown area whenever the weather is suitable.
So I have often dropped into You’ve Gotta Have Friends and have met a variety of people who are often there. Some that I have met have physical disabilities and use wheel chairs. I get a personal satisfaction out of the smiles that I get from these people. One in particular, touches me with such a glow and smile of recognition that comes over his face when I approach him and take his hands in mine. It is hard to explain but I feel changed internally somehow by my interaction with him and many others that I have met in the office. In talking with several of these people I have learned about the past histories and challenges they have faced and if my few minutes with them gives them any pleasure or comfort then that justifies my dropping by.
One of the young people that I became acquainted with over the past two years is a high school student whose career goal was to become a civil engineer. Coincidentally, civil engineering was my profession so we had something in common to talk about. She told me about her health background (she has Asperger syndrome among other things) and what a struggle she has had. She was always in the office when I dropped by and when I found out she just lived down the lane I realized that the office was her back yard! I was sorry when she moved to Aldergrove and I wouldn’t see her any more. I was impressed with how smart she was and enjoyed chatting with her and in time she warmed up to me and I believe I was the first person she gave a hug to.
I’ve noticed recently that there are more people in the office who are looking for work and I am wondering if there are places where they could go to get help with this. I am struck by the relationship between people who go to You’ve Gotta Have Friends. I have never heard an argument between any one.
I was introduced to You’ve Gotta Have Friends when someone from my church brought me here. He told me this was a good place to hang out and meet people. The difference I have noticed in my life is that I can share more with people and I’m more open to making friends. I feel different – I’m a better person. I get to express more love and my life is fuller. I moved to Canada a year ago and want to stay here because of the connections I have made at You’ve Gotta Have Friends. I’m coming out of my comfort zone, I’m more open. I am realizing that I am important and have the freedom to live in new ways that I haven’t experienced before. I enjoy being with people. Everyone is connected.
What has changed for me internally since I’ve been coming here is that I am learning to express myself more . . . I forget about “myself” a lot and find that it’s good to express myself. I have done bible studies and can express myself talking about Christ but I have realized that there are other sides of myself that I am learning about. I am speaking up for myself through the men’s group, you can say your truth. It is important to speak what I feel, it helps you grow as a person.
The best thing I’ve discovered at You’ve Gotta Have Friends is friendship. People are genuine here. If there was one thing I could change it would be that the office would be open every day and maybe it would be in a bigger space. Since coming to You’ve Gotta Have Friends I am exploring a dream of opening a Transition House using YGHF as a model. I am also interested in putting more hours in the office.
Brad (December 2009)
Someone invited me into You’ve Gotta Have Friends and I was looking for new friends. I had a lot of friends in Aldergrove but I lost touch with them after moving to Langley. I am physically limited because I use a scooter to get around. I wanted to establish a circle of friends here. When I first came in I felt warm. Everyone warmed up to me and then I brought Mary and everyone warmed up to her. Now we have a spot to hang out instead of sitting at home.
Getting to know new friends, having them over for coffee has been good for me. Janice treats me like a Christian mother – she’s always there when I need her. Janice has attended several meetings with my group home to discuss my living arrangements with my workers. Janice put on a big Christmas party for me last year and no one has ever done anything like that for me before. That really lifted me up from being down. It took the whole Christmas season to a level that carried right through the month. This year my girlfriend and I will do the Christmas party ourselves. I feel they are letting me “do my own thing” more and I feel more independence. I have more people in my life and I have an opport6unity to socialize more with people in the office. If I have a problem I can talk to Janice or Pat ad I know they will help.
I personally feel part of You’ve Gotta Have Friends. I was abused, I felt hurt, I hated my life. Now I have new friends, a support group and I feel happy and wanted. I get a great welcome when I come in the door, I feel like I’m welcomed with open arms.
I really enjoy going to the dances . . . they’re the best! I would like to be involved in organizing and planning activities. I want to be a helper and to contribute. You’ve Gotta Have Friends has been a big part of my life for the past three years. I want to contribute here and be useful.
Christy (January 2010)
I was introduced to You’ve Gotta Have Friends by Steven Chappel’s caregiver, June Puttuck, a year and a half ago. Steven had been coming to Y.G.H.F. events and she brought me in and encouraged me. My expectation was that I would meet new people. I wanted to be busier and do more things.
Since coming to Y.G.H.F. I feel happier. I look forward to coming here and socializing with friends. I have made new connections and have enjoyed participating in many new activities. I loved riding on the Langley Days Parade float. I dressed up as a nun for the Halloween Dance and it was a lot of fun. I go for coffee and lunch with new friends I’ve met here, have invited several people to my home for dinner and gone to new friends’ homes for dinner. Last summer my caregiver and mom invited all my new friends from Y.G.H.F. to a picnic at our property in Aldergrove. We played games and took everyone on hayrides and we saw several deer.
I was nervous about trying new things but I am not as anxious now because I am encouraged here and people support me. I was shy the first time and joined in a meeting at Choo Choo’s. That evening I began to feel more comfortable and I started coming into the YGHF office several times a week after that. I’ve made new connections and have had people to my home for dinners. I keep in touch with new friends by phone. I’ve gone swimming and had a picnic with Dave and his kids. I liked talking to Al about religion. I’ve been to Michael’s for lunch. The best thing about You’ve Gotta Have Friends is the new friends I have made. I enjoy the special events like Picnic in the Park, the Langley Days Parade and the Halloween Dance because they’re fun.
If there was anything I would change about You’ve Gotta Have Friends it would be that the office would be open more. Since coming to You’ve Gotta Have Friends my life is better. I feel happier because I have a lot more friends. I feel more confident.
Heidi (December 2009)
I was referred to You’ve Gotta Have Friends a couple of years ago by Julie Murakami, WJS Group, as a place to meet new people. When I came to Y.G.H.F., I was hoping to build a friendship network. I have a learning disability and I was trying to find someone who would understand my situation. I want to be accepted for who and what I am. I need a listening ear when I get depressed.
I have met a lot of people in the office and I’ve experienced friendships with people I’ve met here that go beyond the planned events and activities. I go swimming with a group of people a couple of times a week and I enjoy going for coffee with others. I like to be needed and involved. I feel closer to these people and what happens in the office and feel I have grown with Y.G.H.F. I feel connected.
What I enjoy most is the friendly people here. There are many different opinions and ideas from people. I like the variety that happens in the office, different people and situations. The atmosphere is diverse with a whole range of emotions, it’s never boring. If I could change anything at You’ve Gotta Have Friends it would be to expand on activities like getting everyone out of the office in good weather to go for a walk or to do some low or no cost activities like volunteering.
I like the structure, enthusiasm, sharing of ideas and understanding I have experienced with Y.G.H.F. I feel encouraged, energized and inspired. It is a challenge to keep my depression under control and I receive different feedback and support from different people. Acceptance is most important to me, getting to know and interact with others gives me a sense of belonging and to be involved and included in everything that’s happening. I like giving. Hands-on activities like helping at the dances gives me a sense that I can contribute.
Jane (December 2009)
My friend, Brent Poley, invited me to a community dinner/dance hosted by Sharon United Church for You’ve Gotta Have Friends in 2007. Janice spoke to me and told me about Y.G.H.F. I went to the Christmas party a month or so later and then started dropping in at the office. I was hoping to meet new people and make new friends. I was invited to attend a Conversation Café which I enjoyed. I talked to Janice about volunteering through a Mental Health Grant from Stepping Stone (T.V.P.).
I have found my voice! When I first stated coming to Y.G.H.F. I was very soft spoken. I am able to interact better with people by developing listening skills and working in the office answering the phone and making phone calls. I have developed good phone etiquette. I have made new friends and keep in touch by phone and I feel more connected to more people. I have a useful job which give me a sense of direction, where I feel like I am contributing, which makes me feel better about myself.
The best thing about Y.G.H.F. is the new friends I have made, and being responsible about doing my job. If I could make any changes at Y.G.H.F. it would be that we have more space to accommodate more people. I enjoyed the Women’s Group, the experience of sharing ideas with other women, learning about relationships and ourselves. I enjoyed the more focused discussion.
Having employment has been exciting for me. I feel responsible with my job, encouraged in my recovery and my new exercise program and feel supported in my efforts to move forward in pursuing my dream of living independently.
Linda (March 9, 2009)
I was lonely. Jennifer used to work with me and she mentioned YGHF. We came together one day: I tried it out and I liked it, so I kept coming. I always try to be a friendly person, to understand other people and hoped that I would be able to meet others who would like me and accept me. I’m learning to get to know a lot of different people here at ‘friends’ and some of my first impressions of people I are changing as I get to know them.
Since spending time here at YGHF, I’ve met many new people and made some new friends. I just feel like I belong here and I haven’t had that experience very often. It’s a place where I can let my hair down, so-to-speak, and be accepted just for who I am. I feel like I have friends here. I have a strong belief in life that things, difficult times in my life will always work out for the best. It’s sometimes very hard to be patient but I know in my heart it will take time. My friends help me go through hard times. YGHF is a place where I don’t feel judged for my limitations and it’s a place where I don’t feel lonely. I feel lonely when I am at home even though I have wonderful care and support but I don’t feel my loneliness when I’m with YGHF people. My experience at YGHF is kind of like the TV show, ‘Cheers’: at YGHF there is a welcome, warmth, a place where everyone greets me and knows my name.
Michael (March 11, 2009)
Dan Collins told me about You’ve Gotta Have Friends and suggested I come in. I expected that I would meet nice, friendly people and people who are challenged. People are friends here and also are never upset or mean to others. One difference in my life is the Men’s Group where I feel happy all the time. The Monday evening book chat is O.K. I have more friends because I come here. Allan is a good, loving person. He can be a little happy, a little sad. He invited me for supper and brought me back for the book chat that evening.
The best thing about You’ve Gotta Have Friends is that I’m still happy and I’m still excited about being here. To make You’ve Gotta Have Friends a best experience we could listen to music. People could do a lot of things, work on computers, do crafts, watch TV. Things that have changed for me: I go to University now. I look forward to coming here. There is no violence in me any more because I don’t talk loud any more and I press myself to talk softly.
Peni (50+ years - March 2009)
The best thing I’ve found or discovered at You’ve Gotta Have Friends is the overall acceptance and freedom to be exactly who I am at any given time and to be appreciated for spontaneous feedback.
I was touched by Linda asking for a hug and the feeling of acceptance and being valued.
I can honestly say over the course of life I always wanted to be normal and to belong somewhere. Y.G.H.F. is about connection and feeling like you belong. I never felt like I belonged or was accepted. In actuality I feel like I belong with people associated with Y.G.H.F. staff and the people who drop by the office. I carry a thread that is connected to everybody. I first experienced this connection and acceptance at a Y.G.H.F. dance. The experience was that I felt no need to feel self-conscious. I could clap my hands, express the joy of being alive, it was the most exhilarating feeling I can ever recall experiencing.
“Belonging is a degree of acceptance that relieves all my fears of rejection.” There is a generosity of spirit in the office and with the people I interact with there. Belongingness. I experience a role in community as a counselor. As an acknowledged counselor I am given respect around official roles and at Y.G.H.F. I can shed those roles and take off all my hats and Peni the “person” is accepted for who she is, which is such a relief! I experience it as a shedding of roles or labels and the core Peni gets to be present and accepted. All aspects of me are given permission to be present. I can be a real person here.
What brought me across the doorway? The first connection was the conference in 2007 and my second connection was being invited to sit on the Steering Committee. The essence was that it was inspiring because it was real people in real life (warts and all) wanting and deserving to have much more openness, acceptance and welcoming. I was inspired by the visioning of the Steering Committee, to meet a group of people who shared a common vision. I have to feel “real” and an energy in a day to day application.
The Steering Committee holds the dreams and hopes for the community in a visionary way in a planning, collaborative environment. It is necessary to experience the practical application of coming to the office, the reality and truth unfolded on a street level with very real people. I get inspiration from the Steering Committee and my fuel from what actually happens in the office.I am aware of how many more people know me by name and that I know a minimum of 50 new people in the community.
Sandra (January 2010)
I came into You’ve Gotta Have Friends because I knew Pat and Janice. I knew I could contribute with my creative crafts.
When I saw the logo and name I wondered if it was for newcomers but when I found out what You’ve Gotta Have Friends was thought it was a neat concept “the more friends, the better!”. I am a senior and enjoy going to the Seniors Centre but what I like about YGHF is that I don’t get stuck or categorized by my own age group. I enjoy being in an environment where things are still happening. This shows you the diversity in our community.
You’ve Gotta Have Friends has given me an appreciation of wider community and the difficulties some people have. I enjoy popping with my latest creative fun projects and sharing my home baking with the people here.
I have become aware of people’s issues and problems. I’ve become more empathetic and understanding, more accepting of people as they are. People are not judgmental here. I made a connection with Marianne and she’s come to my home. The times I’ve spent with her made me realize and appreciate her courage to make her life work for her.
One of the best things about You’ve Gotta Have Friends is that everyone is open to listen or chit chatting. There are no restrictions. Sometimes there are interesting events. I enjoy the dances. I dress up for the themed dances. I like that you can just be as you are, no expectations or judgment, just go and enjoy yourself and have a good time.
One of the things I enjoy most is the workshops, particularly the women’s group. It was a confidential, sharing and supporting group. I would enjoy more discussion groups, more meaningful and focused conversations. There aren’t too many opportunities to do this in the community. You’ve Gotta Have Friends is a comfort zone for me. I feel appreciated for the little treats and goodies I bring in to share.
Trevor (December 2009)
I am new to the area and needed a way to get to know people. I was referred by Jennifer Craig, gambling counselor, Ground Works Counseling Service. I needed to make new connections in the community.
The biggest change I have felt is that I have learned how to socialize with a lot of different people. I don’t feel as reserved. It was a fresh start for me. I am involved in more healthy social activities like swimming, hanging out with more people for coffee and breakfast. I am involved in planning community activities at You’ve Gotta Have Friends.
Internally, what has shifted most is my belief that I can start to trust some people. I have experienced acceptance, being accepted and being more accepting of others. My experience started at Y.G.H.F. and is branching out with the connections I’ve made and the activities and relationships I’ve formed.
The best thing about Y.G.H.F. is that it gives people an opportunity to meet. I see a lot of people lifted up by coming to Y.G.H.F. I have been lifted up and am definitely happier, much of which is a result of my involvement with Y.G.H.F.
For this to be a best experience I would like more community events and activities that involve more people. I am inspired to try to find ways to organize more things in the community and to help others. I listen to others and offer positive feedback and support. Knowing that I’ve done something good for someone else, I feel more positive and useful.
Office ~ McBurney Plaza, 20510
Fraser Highway, Langley, BC
Make an appointment ~ phone 604-533-6546 or email [email protected].
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