Having lunch with the Mayor of a city is always a big deal, and maybe more so after a long hiatus.
Over at the Canadian Mental Health Association, it was a big deal as the Mayor's Luncheon returned for the first time in their new facilities, with Swift Current Mayor, Al Bridal, in attendance with other city officials and those looking to join them for the special guest presentation.
Happy to see the event returning, as it used to be their biggest fundraiser of the year, was the Executive Director of the CMHA in Swift Current, Todd Vallee.
"We want to dissect this fairly quickly to see where we can improve upon it," said Vallee shortly after the luncheon ended. "Because we do feel like it's an important fundraiser for our organization, and we feel like it's very important that the community have the opportunity to hear the stories of some of the folks that have been brought in."
The guest speaker and presenter for this newly reborn event was Joy Pavelich. Her story that she shared was one of heartbreak, family, and finding new strength through the story of her journey after her son committed suicide coming up on ten years ago.
"It's my way of giving it back," said Pavelich. "I felt like I was compelled to. Going through something like this, if you can help somebody else who does attach meaning to it. That's where I find that meaning."
She focused on the idea of "narrative completion" and how it means finding trauma resolution through sharing the story of that trauma.
Bridal himself was rather touched by the story, picking up a copy of Pavelich's "Chasing my Son Across Heaven" and exchanging some words with her after the show.
"I'm feeling sad but uplifted by her story," said Bridal. "Seeing where she came from and where she's gone to in the last 10 years is very uplifting. It affects so many people in this world. She lost her son, and many people have lost sisters, brothers, and friends. Just a very uplifting story."
By the end of the luncheon, which served pork roast, salad, and other mainstays for $60 a ticket, most folks were profoundly affected by the message that Pavelich had shared.
Pavelich, for her part, wanted people to also focus on how this presentation and luncheon brought the power of community to light.
"I think what's neat about CMHA is that it's community-based mental health, and that means community built it," said Pavelich. "You see the community responding to that need, so people don't feel alone, and they get the resources they need. The more people who have resources, the fewer people are going to be left behind."
The Mayor's Luncheon is a yearly event, which the CMHA is aiming to have occur at this time again next year. The return of the event bodes well for them in this new building, which they have been growing into over the last half a year.
"We haven't quite got around to doing everything yard-wise, but that is on the horizon," said Vallee. "We need a little more shelving here and there, or it's things like 'let's move that on that wall'. Our donor recognition wall was just installed last week."
This weekend, they are unveiling their new donor wall, which honours everyone in the community who made donations while they were fundraising to build this structure.