Community is my family’s support system

Letter to the Editor, Toronto Star, July 8, 1995


In this fragmented world I have my community. I am a part-time working mother with two children living in a downtown Toronto.

Many of my friends are mothers, some working full- or part-time, some at home. We all live within a few blocks of each other and our kids attend the local public school. At any given time one may take another one's kids to school or one may pick up and do after-school care if needed. The kids are all comfortable in any of the other's homes. When my kids are sick on the days I work, I can call on my friends for child care.

There is a lot emotional and psychological support as well – for each other and our children.

Beyond this circle is a larger circle of the school community. Most kids at the school are from the neighborhood. Nowadays most people pick up their kids from school and over time, you recognize almost every kid’s guardian, whether they be parent, grandparent or babysitter. A lot of information sharing takes place about school matters, community activities and lifestyle.

This year has been a tough one at our school. A teacher who had taught for 20 years died, and a mother died suddenly. Our flag has been a half-mast twice. We grieved individually, but also collectively for this loss. The teacher was totally dedicated to her profession and the kids. The mother was someone we all saw every day. Many of the kids in the school knew her personally and, like the teacher, her death affected them deeply. There was an outpouring of sympathy (encouraged by the staff) for the surviving family members. Many of us attended her funeral, even if we had never set foot in her home or knew her full name.

We come from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds – our commonality is our children and the school. It will be a sad day when local public schools are no longer the standard. The trend has indeed been away from public to private and kids traveling great distances to one school or another. I hope the trend will change – for the sake of our well-being as a society that goes beyond the three “R’s”.

If we don’t hold on to a sense of community, what we are left with is, well, I hate to think.

The teacher, the mother, my community – they are reminders of a world that still struggles to maintain decent values and a basic kindness between human beings.

Miriam Garfinkle
Toronto