Harold's Story

2010 United Way Spirit Awards, March 30, 2011

Receiving to Give - Harold Spielman

"I had a successful career in mechanical engineering, my own consulting company with travel opportunities to many parts of the world, and then an unwise business decision and consequent execution resulted in the loss of all our assets, including the foreclosure of our home. It meant going through a time of taking by creditors, and downsizing in every way. Items we purchased or obtained that had sentimental value had to go, as well.

The subsequent loss of my vision followed. Initially, I tried to cover my condition by negotiating longer deliveries on projects, but it got so bad I had to put the company on hold, and that left me with no current means of income. The result was a choice to pay rent or buy groceries. Several months of rent were owed, along with an eviction notice and no phone. I was at the doorstep of street living, a situation I never considered to be possible, and it was extremely humbling.

At this time, the building manager contacted Fraser Health, who mobilized to assess my situation and establish assistance in various areas. Abbotsford Community Services Meals on Wheels and the Food Bank provided welcome daily meals that were delivered by volunteers who brought encouragement and empathy with each visit. Without donations the fullness of volunteering is seriously affected. These services are supported by your United Way donations.

My need for assistance ultimately was short-term because of the overwhelming assistance I received from many people. My eyesight has now been restored; I am blessed with 20/20 vision. As well, new sources of income are being identified and new project work is proceeding in my business. Traumas like this can happen to anyone at any time, and even with great willpower and a positive attitude we cannot totally escape them. The difference results when the community unites to provide resources for assistance to those who fall into need in various ways.

I have experienced many things during this part of the journey; I was not able to receive from others before this crisis took place because I was a self-made person and consequently I did not understand the real impact that giving can have in the life of someone who needs assistance. Most often the givers will not be in a position to see the full effect of their efforts; it is like the part of the iceberg that is under water.

All aspects of my life are now new, and as a result of the United Way giving, I have the opportunity to live out a new dream. Blessings have been bestowed and friendships made as a result of this journey. Thank you for hearing my story."