Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Last year's move to Uxbridge complete, I moved forward on two of my retirement goals. Firstly, adopt a desperately needed exercise routine. Ugh! Puff! Puff! Grunt! Secondly, community involvement - with my new free retirement time, to give back to my adopted town. 
An avid swimmer since early childhood, joining sessions at Uxpool was a natural. Goal number '1' -check! What were the chances that during my first swimming session I would, as an obvious newcomer, be greeted by Uxbridge native, the lovely Anna? Casual conversation that morning revealed Anna's volunteer work at the second hand shop run by our Uxbridge Cottage Hospital's Auxiliary. Opportunity knocked and I answered.
One police report approval plus two retail training sessions and I was volunteering my time once a month. Goal number '2' - check! I yearned, however, for a more frequent involvement. What then were chances that the volunteer with whom Anna worked on Thursday afternoons would no longer be available and that Anna should ask if I may be interested in working with her? Are you kidding me? Real estate relegated to my past, a new retail career was launched.
Now don't let those label-driven, new clothing juices flow prematurely. We are not speaking of a Rodeo Drive-style glitzy operation. In truth, we are not even speaking of a cookie cutter Canadian mall-like operation. Tucked away on a side street in old town Uxbridge, the drab, humble exterior of this store could potentially be off-putting to the serious, self-professed discerning buyer. But never, never judge a book by its cover. To do so in this case would be to belie the caring, vibrancy and adventure found behind the rather forlorn exterior.
Staffed completely by local volunteers, this miraculous little shop, selling a plethora of lightly used goods kindly contributed by the general public, has donated over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital. Sorters give of their time organizing and displaying donations of gently used clothes, footwear, household goods, toys, knick knacks. Truthfully, the list is endless. A well respected local jeweller volunteers his time, carefully inspecting donated jewellery to ensure that no pieces of genuine value are inadvertently sold away at "steal prices". A jewellery sale of such valuables is held once a year with all proceeds also gifted to the hospital. An accountant, generously giving of her own valuable time, reviews daily cash register receipts and audits the annual books. An avid reader volunteer sorts through boxes of books and refills the rapidly depleted shelves. Highly successful seasonal Hallowe'en and Christmas sales are organized. Make no mistake, this is a slick, well-run operation.
For me, volunteering at this little shop on Bascom is a privilege and affords me a front row seat from which to witness the ingenuity, generosity and kindness that exist within our small, but mighty town. From my cash register viewpoint as I scan the racks of clothes and shelves of goods and books, I realize that as we move along the main street of our lives, intriguing little side streets appear, inviting us to deviate slightly from our pre-planned routes. Take one; just do it. Chances are your life will be enriched immeasurably.
Oh! And should you find a desirable item in our little shop, you would be best to purchase it today; if not, chances are it will be gone tomorrow."  The name of the shop?" you ask.  "Chances Are", of course. 

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