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Compassionate • Energetic • Happy

Her Story

Thelma Dillon

Nurse - Golden Plough Lodge, Manager - Northumberland MultiCultural Dance Troupe, Zumba Instructor, Volunteer Medical Responder - Event Medical Services Team

Thelma's Story :

My name is Thelma Dillon, but the name I was born with is Thelma Timog. Born in rural Abella, Ligao, Albay, in the Philippines, in 1972. As a teenager, I came to Ottawa, Canada as a foreign student, sponsored by my sister, Marilyn Timog, and her husband Jean-Marc. While still a student in college, I met my future husband, a Customs and Immigration Senior Officer, Terry Dillon.

With about 2 years remaining in my Business Administration course, I was married in 1995 and applied for a Spousal Sponsorship Visa. When I graduated in 1997, my husband and I opened Ottawa’s very first internet café. We later sold it and opened up The Filipino Café, which was a licensed karaoke bar. We were also the first to bring in live TV from the Philippines via satellite at our café. Over the years, we’ve owned and managed internet cafes and computer stores. It was during this time that we moved to Hastings, Ontario where we had our first child, our son, Zachary. We owned a mobile entertainment company and hosted many concerts and festivals over the years.

While we have lived in Ottawa and throughout this region, we had lived in Bancroft for some years, where I decided to attend Loyalist College to become a Nurse. We had two more children, William and Dreydan when in Bancroft. When it was time to complete my consolidation (clinical), we decided Cobourg would be the best place. Terry and his family grew up here and went to Cobourg schools, and he shared his very fond memories with us. We just couldn’t imagine a more family-oriented community than Cobourg. And I was very fortunate upon completing my nursing consolidation to be offered a position here. Now this is our home and with our 4 th son, Mason our lives are complete. Sadly we had another son, Angelo, who passed shortly after birth.

My life before Canada wasn’t a dream. And the less you have, the more you need a good imagination to take you away from the harsh realities around you. One of twelve children plus my parents, living in a tiny home made from bamboo and coconut trees, and a dirt floor. But our foundation was strong as it was built on love we had for one another. No permanent place to call our own until I was fourteen years old. Going days with one meal a day… maybe some rice and if lucky a bit of dried fish. All of us who lived under that same roof felt the pains of an empty stomach. And seeing that pain all around me, I did all I could to help ease that pain. I would take some of the dried rice and hide it, and that day we would all eat a little less. I’d do this whenever I could because I knew it would be all too soon that we’d have empty bellies. When those days arrived, I would go to my hiding space and pull out rice. I didn’t have enough for every time we had empty bellies, but I tried my best. This was my first experience as a caregiver, thinking of others’ pain and trying to help.

This is why we needed an imagination, to take us away from the harsh realities. So I dreamed I was a princess. When an airplane soared over our heads, my imagination took me to those heights where I could see myself as something more than the poor little girl. Even when I was sent away to live with our distant relatives, to be their caregiver to help my family, I still had an inner strength that allowed me to escape my reality and become someone of importance and one day can make a difference and help my family and others. At that time, with so many harsh reality around me, I didn’t know what I would do with my life. Those living around me in the small village lived from day to day. Raising children and trying to put food on the table, a roof over their heads and clothing on their backs. But I felt like I was different and that somehow I would escape that reality. I felt purpose – I believed I was destined to help others.

It wasn’t until I started my own family that I could really see myself doing something more. My heart was to be with people, interacting, helping, caring, and making them smile. But in 2005 I had my life’s wakeup call. My dad was diagnosed with Dementia.

I visited him often at the nursing home, and I could literally see myself in the role as a caregiver taking care of people in need, like my dad.

When I found out about the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, I heard my calling. I became a NAMI Instructor. I taught families and I taught medical staff. And I felt the calling to do more. I decided to take the next big step and become a Nurse.

It was a challenge to say the least, as my English was pretty broken. But thank God for the wonderful staff at Loyalist College (Bancroft Campus), as they gave so much of their time to help with the material. And thank God for my mother-in-law who spent countless hours – evenings – months on end to help me study. So many wonderful people that made it possible for me to answer to my calling to be a Nurse.

Today, we still live here in Cobourg in Northumberland County, where I work as a Nurse at the Golden Plough Lodge. I also manage, choreograph, and coordinate the Northumberland Multicultural Dance Troupe and I teach Zumba Fitness throughout the County at schools, community centre and events.

And when not Nursing, managing the dance troupe, or instructing Zumba, I am a volunteer Medical Responder with the non-profit Event Medical Services team.

My favorite part of living in Canada is the opportunity that exists for everyone. You just have to remember to never give up! If you have a goal, stay focused on it and keep moving forward because the
only way to fail is to stop trying. This has gotten me to where I want to be in life. Northumberland County is our home, a really great place to be. It is the most inclusive place I have ever been to in my
life. I am very proud to work alongside my husband, promoting multiculturalism in Northumberland County and beyond.

This is my story – a young girl, one of 12 children, who grew up in a 3 rd world country and then found my way to Canada, and became who I am today – a wife of nearly 25 years, a mother of 4 boys, a nurse, a multicultural dance troupe manager, a Zumba Fitness Instructor, a Medical Responder, and an active member of our community.