By Darryl Harand (Kelowna, B.C.)
My name is Darryl Harand. I am a self-advocate and co-chair of the CLBC South Okanagan Community Council. I am also a former CLBC Board member. This is a story to honour the late Laura. She worked as a CLBC manager who had great respect and patience for the people she served.
I met Laura in 2012. She was one of the managers at CLBC. I watched her in that capacity and was impressed by her professionalism. However, I did not see how truly patient she was until I had a personal issue that she helped me with. I was not in the best of states, yet she was always very professional and dignified in all our interactions.
She did not lose sight of the fact that she was dealing with someone going through something that was very painful and personal. She was very supportive and caring during that time.
Then later on that year, after my term at the CLBC board had expired, she approached me about coming on to the Community Council and eventually taking over as chair which I did.
It did not come without its challenges, but Laura was always very supportive. She always had my back and was also very encouraging. Our friendship continued even after she was diagnosed with cancer. She kept in touch as much as she could, and we would have lunches together. The support and the love were still there. For those who don’t know me, I have adoptive sisters. Not actual sisters, a lot of them I did not grow up with. Laura became an adoptive sister, for the reasons I have outlined above.
Then, when she was diagnosed with cancer, Laura became an example of how to conduct yourself, even when faced with a crisis of epic proportions. The dignity, professionalism and kindness never stopped. That is something, I and a lot of other people strive to live by. I just have to remind myself, as bad as I have had it. I always need to hold on to a sense of dignity, professionalism and kindness.
Laura had a very rich sense of humour. Case in point, at a Saint Patrick’s Day Dance, Miss Laura convinced yours truly, to don a Leprechaun Outfit. All I could do was laugh. As I was laughing, I was thinking about how Laura got me to do something that no one else could make me do. It had to be perpetrated by someone who could be serious, but also not afraid to have fun.
I am very glad that I kept that Leprechaun hat and other parts of the costume because it brings back fond memories of the kind of person she was and the kind of person I endeavour to be in my own life.