Categorized | Opinion

Resident says GBF stairway leads to neighbourhood unrest

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I should thank the GBF for bringing our neighbourhood closer together.

It is surprising how much can be accomplished when people work together towards the same goal. Then again, you are masters of that.

We discovered that the GBF wasn’t a good neighbour after all. You chose to close this neighbourhood connector, at the south-east corner of your parking lot, that links our neighbourhood with downtown Grimsby, without announcement to your neighbours.

Every time we’d walk up or down the stairs, there was a warm fleeting thought of the GBF. That this charity was brilliant. You had mastered the art of community relations by keeping this stairway open for some who had donated to you all these years.

You were doing something amazing and you didn’t even know it.

The stairway was closed, so we knocked on your door, but nobody would talk to us. Again and again. We were beginning to think we were being told to “go to hell”.

Surely not the local charity that everybody loved?

After all, every church in town sends out a plea every Sunday for monetary or food donations for GBF. That’s how GBF ended up with more than $1.3 million in the bank.

But, GBF doesn’t talk about it. GBF continues to extend pleas for support. And it continues to be rude to its neighbours.

We had an idea. We reasoned that the GBF operates via volunteers and we have the skilled trades to repair the stairs. We can volunteer to rebuild them.

Our neighbours were excited about the prospect of helping. Well, you refused our help.

You see, the GBF depends on the community as much as the community depends on it. You know how it works. We load up the trunk of the car and we visit the back door at the GBF.

Our life-long treasures then become yours. This is the development of a relationship. One where our very personal pasts become linked to the GBF.

At your front door is a different kind of relationship. Our four-year-old granddaughter has a favourite store. It is not Old Navy or Toys R Us. It is the GBF.

Our rule is – if she wants to buy a toy, she must first donate an old one. Yes, she will be a strong supporter tomorrow because nana and poppa are building one. By the way, she still says she wants to walk on the stairway to the GBF store. But, she can’t now.

On the other hand, the teenagers here will remember that GBF took away their shortcut to high school and their walk every morning was a little longer. You can probably strike them from your list of future supporters. High school students have long memories.

Your performance in public over this in the past few months has brought shame upon your organization. You are lucky that not many have witnessed your embarrassing commentaries made before the public works committee and your own board.

All these years, the stairway has been a gem in a community relations plan you didn’t know you had. Had you been in touch with the community, you could have turned the maintenance of a deteriorating stairway into a community project that generated tons of hugs and fostered understanding, trust and support.

So, it’s not too late to start from square one again. Do what everyone does and weigh the good points against the bad.

Then map out your recovery plan and back-pedal. It’s a task that requires taking a deep breath, shaking hands and starting all over again.

It wasn’t planned, but I suppose I have knocked on your door again.

Ken Cherney
Grimsby, Ontario

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