Songs of the City is a special evening of compelling speakers and songwriters that tells the transformative stories of everyday people whose lives have been changed because of your ongoing support of United Way. Songs of the City is a celebration of our community, and a thank you for your help in making it a better place for everyone who lives here.
These inspiring narratives will tell the transformative stories of people right here in our community whose lives have been changed because of your support of the United Way. Stories will be shared from John Howard Society of Fredericton, Community Action Group on Homelessness and the Multicultural Association of Fredericton. Stay tuned as we announce more storytellers and artists.
This free event is presented in partnership with Shivering Songs and has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the following sponsors:
Regional Presenting Sponsor
Regional Leading Sponsor
Local Platinum Sponsor
Local Silver Sponsor
and, Fredericton Community Foundation’s Community Grants Program.
Tickets available for the general public on Tuesday, January 15th.
On January 18th, United Way Central New Brunswick hosted our third annual Songs of the City. The evening consisted of compelling speakers sharing their stories of success thanks to the help they received from one of United Way’s partner charities. After every inspiring story, a musician from the Shivering Songs music festival played a song that was written about their story. These songs varied in style, instruments and sound but each one was so incredibly unique and beautiful.
The evening opened with a story of hurdles, challenges and triumphs from a family who was helped by Opal Family Services. Allison is now a mother of 3 beautiful girls, but she and her husband, Michael, tried for years to get pregnant. After exploring every avenue, Allison and Michael decided that adoption was right for them. Allison, along with other family members were adopted so they understood first-hand how rewarding the experience can be. Shortly after they were confirmed to adopt, Allison and her husband received a call to go and meet two beautiful sisters, Jessica and Stacey. Upon meeting, their family instantly grew by two. Jessica and Stacey are two very special ladies. Both eventually diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, they’ve faced difficulties but also so many triumphs. A short while after they were adopted, Allison and Michael were blessed with an unexpected pregnancy and welcomed a third beautiful baby girl into their lives. Today, thanks to the support offered by Opal Family Services, the family of five lives life to the fullest and enjoys every second.
Catherine MacLellan followed Allison’s story with an inspirational song titled “All The Rest of The Time” which shared the incredible relationship between Allison and Michael and their strength and resilience through all of life’s hurdles.
A client from CNIB NB followed with his story of loss and his journey to re-learning his life. Just as Aaron was getting ready to embark on a new journey with the Canadian military, he started getting symptoms that he just attributed to the nervousness of starting something new. After moving to Victoria, BC, Aaron’s life completely changed when a doctor diagnosed Aaron with a brain tumour. While a difficult round of radiation helped reduce the tumour, a small portion remains that has caused Aaron to go blind. Eight months later, Aaron found himself back in Oromocto ready to start his new, albeit unexpected, journey. Working with CNIB, Aaron is slowly gaining back his independence. He has worked with them to master getting around with a cane, using new technologies on his phone and computer, and most recently has started cooking lessons. Aaron’s life isn’t what he expected, but he embraces every day and can’t wait to see what he can accomplish next.
Josh Bravener performed a moving song titled “Taken Away from Me,” capturing Aaron’s experiences and journey thus far.
Our next story came from Dale, someone who is closing the door to one chapter of his life, and about to embark on a new one. Dale is a recent retiree from the City of Fredericton, where he worked as a mail-delivery worker for 28 years. Dale has spent his life contributing, thanks to the Jobs Unlimited Program. Jobs Unlimited helps to match individuals with intellectual disabilities find meaningful work opportunities. Dale was matched with the City of Fredericton, which has resulted in a great career full of dedication and fulfilment. Every day, Dale would truck down the halls of the post office, police station, Fredericton tourism, and other city institutions delivering mail. At each and every stop, Dale was received with a welcome as he delivered not only their mail, but also his infectious grin. Dale is now nearing 60 years old, but he has more energy than anyone. His retirement hasn’t slowed him down at all, now instead of working he gives his time to volunteering and leads a very active lifestyle. Dale is an expert bowler, plays weekly games of basketball and floor hockey and a participant of the Special Olympics. Dale lives every day to the fullest, as he inspires people to take joy in everything they do.
Greg Webber wrote a song titled “Carry Me” about Dale and his experiences as a city
employee, that was inspired by Dale’s favourite artist: Kenny Rogers.
Following a lively performance, attendees heard from a volunteer at the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre. Libby was blessed to grow up surrounded by strong women. Her mother and grandmother shaped her into the individual she is today: a young woman with passion and strength. At the beginning of her university career, Libby was introduced to the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre (FSAC) and immediately knew she had to be involved. Libby met countless other women who strived to create safe spaces and networks for all women in Fredericton. It was at a Take Back the Night Event that Libby realized she wanted to take a step further with her commitment to FSAC and give a speech at the next event. After preparing her speech, and drawing strength from the women around her, Libby’s world was turned upside down: her partner decided to suddenly end things with little explanation. She was devastated, lost and unsure of who she was without him. With the event only hours away, Libby was unsure how she was going to deliver her speech about strength when she herself felt incredibly vulnerable and hurt. But thanks to the support network Libby has in her family, friends and colleagues at FSAC she was able to deliver the speech and be a beacon of hope for the community that needed her.
Lydia Mainville, of Saint John, performed an incredibly powerful song titled “Made of Fire” featuring her breathtaking cello talents. The song described Libby’s unwavering strength throughout her life and the power that can be found within.
To end off the night, listeners heard from a returning Songs of the City guest: George, a client of Ability New Brunswick. When he was a kid, George’s mother taught him an important lesson which he has carried with him throughout his entire life. After a particularly embarrassing experience, his mom told him “George, if you can’t learn to laugh at yourself, you can never laugh at anyone else.”
While in his mid-thirties, George finally felt like he had his life on track. His career was doing well and he had just purchased a plow for his truck. He never imagined a fun night with friends could result in his paralysis and a life in a wheelchair, but after a hunting accident, that’s exactly where George ended up. In a blink of an eye, George went from completely independent to totally dependent. He loved adventure, woodworking and keeping busy, but everything was different now. The recovery wasn’t easy, he experienced dark and dismal times where he was uncertain he even wanted to continue; he thought his new life would never be what he wanted. But when Haley Flaro, of Ability NB, met with George, she told him about a vehicle retrofit program, George’s outlook changed. He became hopeful and eager to see what this new, unexpected journey had in store for him. Thanks to some velcro straps and modifications, George now has a booming business in woodworking and is working towards getting his vehicle retrofitted so he can regain his independence. George attributes his positive outlook to countless things, including Ability NB, but the biggest contributor has been George’s own resilience and the words of his mother.
Tim Walker took the stage for the final song of the evening titled “Mama’s Never Wrong” which musically shared the trials of George’s life and the saving tune of his mother’s wisdom.
Songs of the City is an incredibly special event, one like none other in Fredericton. Emotional and inspirational stories paired with breathtaking music and song, it’s an evening difficult to forget. These stories are just a sampling of the courage, strength and resilience that can be found in our community. Every person in our community has a story, and thanks to your support and donations we can continue to help individuals have a hot meal, a friend, or support during a tough time. None of these people would be here today without the support they received during their darkest hours. None of these people would be here without you.