What do we mean when we talk about community building? We’re talking about someone or something that brings people together and serves to foster a sense of togetherness between members of community, regardless of economic or social boundaries.
That’s exactly what happened when Skylar Barfoot, four, got sick.
Barfoot and his family are currently in the Vancouver area at a medical centre dealing with the little boys illness which at the moment appears to be some sort of cancer but that cannot yet be confirmed.
Initially brought into Fort St. James’ Stuart Lake Hospital when he exhibited cold and flu symptoms, doctors quickly realized something was amiss when his symptoms did not improve.
Since being transferred to Vancouver the young boy has undergone a series of operations including blood transfusions and a bone marrow biopsy, something a boy of only four should never have to experience.
What happened next was faith-restoring. In the wake of Barfoot’s illness, community members came together to raise money to help the boy and his family cover the costs associated with travel, medical care and other expenses. They did so through a silent auction and a spaghetti dinner at the gym of Fort St. James Secondary School.
But it was about more than just raising money – it was about community coming together to support each other.
From my brief chats with some of the more than 100 people that came and went during the fundraiser, it seemed that Barfoot and his family had touched the lives of each and every person in Fort St. James and Nak’azdli in some way.
Whether Barfoot is a grandchild, a great grandchild, a schoolmate or a friend – everyone was connected to him in some way, shape or form.
The fundraiser and silent auction raised over $5,000 for the Barfoot family with people (and businesses) far and wide donating over 50 items to the auction.
There were people from all walks of life at the fundraiser, from municipal councillors, artists and ranchers to family and school children and they all were coming together to help a community member, a family member in need.
And that is truly what community building is about, about a community that comes together when it matters most and puts their petty differences aside for the greater good.
Skylar Barfoot’s story has truly touched my heart as did the reaction from those in Fort St. James. Whether this little boy knows it or not, he is loved and he has made an impact by his very existence and will to fight. We wish him and his family all the best in their time of need and thank you, Fort St. James, for showing that when it matters most this community is here for one another.