What's in a Story?

By: Vanessa Cullen
When I started planning to write as Laura’s guest-blogger, I knew right away I would want it to be about storytelling. After all, Laura’s blogs usually stem from a great story so I have the theme correct! I also wanted to continue encouraging everyone – volunteers, staff, clients – to share their stories. I started with a google-search of ‘storytelling’ and this popped up:
Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.
I found this interesting, especially the last few words…instilling moral values. I would say one of the most impactful ways my mother has influenced me over my lifetime is through her stories. She has told me endless recounts of growing up as a young girl during WWII, painting images of the air raid shelter in her backyard in England, food stamps and rations, seeing boys from the neighbourhood go off to war never to return. She even had an experience when a soldier climbing in her bedroom window and hiding under her bed. He bribed her with an orange to stay quiet. It took years before she told her own parents that this had occurred (I hope that coveted orange was worth keeping that secret!).
I never grow tired of hearing her stories and I certainly never get bored of watching the reaction of my kids as my mother tells them of her experiences. It got me thinking. What could another person’s stories from a really long time ago, in another country across the ocean during a time in history, that I can’t fully relate to, possibly teach me?
The answer is a lot. It turns out I have had a lifetime of stories to teach me to appreciate what I have, to never take for granted how amazing my life is with my family, my own house, a kitchen full of food, countless friends and family that I can call on when I need help or maybe just to spend time with sitting around a bonfire. I never feel lonely. I never feel desperate that I can’t afford food. I never feel alienated or scared or marginalized.
All of these stories have in a round-about way brought me to where I am today. Working with Meals on Wheels London, trying to extend our reach to more in London. Trying to tell our stories of impact in the lives of the people we serve, trying to instill that sense of moral value that many seniors in this community need us and we have the ability to make such a difference to each one of them.
Sharing our stories is IMPACTFUL. The people we serve have a story and it is up to us to tell it. Let’s share the stories of the faces we meet, the lessons we have learned and the reasons why we all do what do with Meals on Wheels London. Who knows what will come of it? If I had to guess, I would say the answer is MORE THAN WE REALIZE.