Jane BleeckerRetired - Wife - Mother - Nana of 8 - Sister - Loyal Friend
Jane's Story :
Let me begin by saying that talking about myself and questioning what I have done that would inspire others has been one of the most difficult pieces I have ever had to compose.
I was born Matilda Jane in 1953 and spent my first 19 years in the village of Keene. Life revolved around church, school, and the arena. Rural life was all about community: helping others when a crop needed harvesting or a fire destroyed a barn, or when an illness happened. My father lived his entire life in the village, with the exception of a few years at Queen’s University. “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” was something I often heard him say.
Life is a constant learning process and over the span of twenty years I learned about marriage, moving away, raising children, having a career, getting divorced, coming home, parents passing, and remarrying. Struggles hopefully make you stronger and when faced with job loss and two teenagers to look after, I took on three part time jobs to make ends meet. One of these jobs opened my eyes to the world of raising a child with special needs. That led me to becoming involved with Special Olympics, and more recently helping to coach Challenger Baseball. These children are filled with so much love and joy, and they just want to do the stuff they see other kids doing.
Struggles also brought me back to church. Having grown up within a faith community, it was like coming home for me. Grace United Church has given me a place to grow, to find purpose, and a way to give to others. I sit on the church board of directors, participate in many church groups, and enjoy a number of the outreach projects we do, such as working with One Roof Diner. I also represented Grace Church as a member of Safe Haven 4 Refugees, which helped to bring two Syrian families to Peterborough. It was through Grace that I discovered the great passion of my life: our yearly mission trips to Honduras!! I am so grateful to have traveled there the past nine years, three times as group leader.
Our home base in Honduras is an orphanage called Nuevo Paraiso, under the administration of Sociedad Amigos de los Niños, just over an hour’s drive from the capital city. Working with a local team, we have helped to build or make improvements to the children’s homes and school, a medical centre, and one-room schools in surrounding communities. We are able to play games and do crafts with the children in the village where we stay, and we deliver food and supplies to some of the rural mountain schools.
I think one of my greatest joys was the honour of attending the 93rd birthday of Sister Maria Rosa, the founder of Sociedad Amigos de los Niños. She has built homes for and given hope to thousands of orphaned and abused children, and I am truly honoured to know her and to have been able to do my small part to help.
In addition to this, our family sponsors two children in the orphanage and I am able to visit with them every year.
In the past few years I have come to realize how much the smallest act of kindness can impact the life of someone else. I’ve learned that the gift of your time given to others is undeniably the best gift ever.
I’m leaving you to decide: In life do you see yourself as a spoon or as a ladle? A spoon is for serving yourself. A ladle is for serving others!