Six months after retiring from a small tax reporting company in Waterloo, Bill Brubacher reached out to Lutherwood – an organization he first heard about while attending a Lutheran church with his parents at just 10 years old.
Like so many in retirement, Bill’s life has changed. Less income means he cannot maintain his previous donation levels; but he does have more time. So he sings in his church choir, plays the organ when the organist is away, helps kids learn to speak and read English, and tests the condition of donated items at Thrift on Kent.
Three years ago, when he approached Lutherwood about volunteering, the team at Lutherwood Child and Family Foundation welcomed Bill’s data entry skills and his willingness to support its mission to raise funds for Lutherwood programs. As his interest in Lutherwood grew, he introduced it to his church which had recently amalgamated and sold a building. The church, seeing an opportunity to leave a legacy of its work by providing joy and hope to youth in the community, decided to use a portion of the proceeds from the sale to invest in the future of youth by matching donations and inspiring others to give through Lutherwood’s fall giving campaign.
With his quiet and unassuming manner and his interest in numbers, it wasn’t long before Bill began helping students struggling with math at Lutherwood’s Children's Mental Health Centre. “It’s hard for the kids to concentrate on a math problem when they have so much else going on in their lives – but it’s so exciting when they get it!” he explained. “While they might know the individual steps to solving a complex math problem, they may not see how to put it all together. I help them by spending the one-on-one time they need to find a way to work it through.”
Working directly with the youth helps Bill appreciate Lutherwood’s work. “These kids are here to learn how to deal with challenges in their lives. They may be here to learn how to cope with such problems as anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts. I don’t ask them why they are here or what their diagnosis is; I don’t need to know. I just see each one as a human being and want help them if I can. I am told I am a role model because they see me arrive on time, patiently help them solve a problem and just pay attention to them.”
“Sometimes we talk about the latest music, fashion, what they like and what they don’t like. But most importantly, we learn how to connect and start a conversation. I know we are there when we can tease each other and laugh together.”
While Bill and his wife Anne love to travel in their newly-found spare time, Bill is also quite happy to return and work with the kids. “What’s so amazing is the change that takes place,” he concluded. Toward the end of their time here they come to class more regularly, they are more confident, and they interact with people more often. The amazing part is to know that they are leaving here so much better than how they came.”
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