At one point in her younger life, things might have gone a long ways down a darkening road. Who knows where that would have ended for Lynn Iviney.
But someone kindly offered her a break when she was orphaned young, in Winnipeg, having lost her father to illness when she was nine, and then within a few years her mother who fell down some stairs, hit her head, and died days later.
In those hard times there was always something Iviney remembered.
“I knew that we were loved. We had very loving parents.” It’s part of a past that ultimately led her to wanting to make sure no child in Red Deer goes without a Christmas present.
Iviney, 58, is the person who came up with the idea of the inaugural Christmas Wish Breakfast in Red Deer last month, and with support from a group of enthusiastic volunteers, pulled it off with much success.
Although she was an underage young person without her parents, a social services worker agreed to give her an orphan’s benefit so she could survive. “What if they hadn’t given it to me?”
The two charities that recently benefited from the Christmas Wish Breakfast were the Christmas Bureau and the Salvation Army. “I have a soft spot for the Salvation Army,” Iviney said.
Years ago her brother was driving out to Vancouver to surprise her for a visit but he got stranded in Golden or Revelstoke because of bad weather. A single guy, alone, he checked into a motel on Christmas Eve. That night someone from the Salvation Army knocked on his door and gave him a gift basket, which he didn’t keep. But the kindness of that gesture led Iviney to give to the Salvation Army ever since.
“Charities do things like that that people don’t know about,” she said.
One day five years ago Iviney was out walking her beagles when she fell on ice and hit her head. She has no memory of falling, or even getting home. She suffered a brain injury and was off work for months. “It was just a really rough time. … “My mom died from a blow to the head. It was really scary.”
All the while she had the idea to start the Christmas Wish Breakfast in Red Deer, a takeoff from one in Vancouver, but didn’t feel strong enough. Then last Christmas she and her colleagues “adopted” a group of teens, providing them with gifts.
“Next year we’re doing the Christmas Wish Breakfast,” she told her friends then. And so, along with a committee of five, and help from several organizations including the Black Knight Inn, Stantec, IFR Workwear, and the Red Deer Firefighters, she did.