Kelly Sinoski (Patrick Davies, 100 Mile Free Press photo)

Small-town spirit bright despite pandemic

This town never ceases to amaze me.

It seems like whenever someone needs a hand, someone else is offering one. Social media is constantly full of raves about good deeds, whether it’s pulling someone out of a snowbank, paying it forward at Tim Horton’s or people just watching out for their seasonal neighbours.

Last month, the community rallied around a man stranded at the 100 Mile House Laundromat after his truck broke down and caught fire. People brought him food, money and dog food for his pet and even offered to tow his vehicle to Houston where he had been headed.

He was so grateful he declared he wanted to live here.

Indeed, in these times of COVID-19, it’s great to be in a small town, even if people don’t know your name.

This was evident again the other day when someone stole a bike that was intended as a birthday surprise for a 16-year-old autistic boy. Social media once again blew up. People were ready to open their wallets, a Canadian 2-for-1 offer whipped up a pair of pizzas for his big day and the Pie Hole girls gifted a half-dozen “funfetti” cupcakes.

It makes my heart swell.

The past year has been rough for everyone. A poll by charity group Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) earlier this year suggested Canadians were reporting their highest-ever levels of depression and anxiety amid the pandemic. According to the MHRC, the proportion of Canadians who have reported their level of depression as high has increased by 70 per cent since the height of COVID’s first wave.

In the South Cariboo, the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre said mental health support requests have doubled since March 2020, following mill closures and unemployment as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. Public health agencies have noted a rise in reports of substance abuse, domestic violence, and economic hardship. Reports of break-ins and thefts around the region have become a constant occurrence.

Yet despite the fact we’re all suffering COVID-fatigue and many people are struggling themselves, they are still willing to give to those who are less fortunate.

In these dark days of the pandemic, it’s heartening to know that the small-town spirit of 100 Mile House remains unbroken.

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